Will big-spending Russians stop shopping for luxury?


Shares in luxury goods makers fell on Monday after Russia's invasion of Crimea raised the risk that European governments could impose visa restrictions on big-spending Russian shoppers.

The United States threatened to impose sanctions on Moscow at the weekend. European Union foreign ministers hope high-level mediation will resolve the crisis, but could also threaten sanctions if Russia does not back down.

Pedestrians pass a promotional exhibit for Louis Vuitton, a large wooden chest adorned in the trademark pattern and logo of luxury manufacturer LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA on display next to the GUM shopping mall, left, in Red Square, Moscow, Russia.
Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The top shopping destinations for Russians are Milan, Paris and Rome, according to research by Global Blue, a VAT tax-refund company. It says about 60 percent of Russian travellers are luxury shoppers who spend their money in Europe's fashion capitals.

"Sanctions against Russia—depending on their possible shape and form—could be a negative for luxury goods companies, especially if they brought a reduction in the number of Russian tourists coming to Europe,'' said Exane BNP Paribas luxury goods analyst Luca Solca.

(Read more: Ukraine, Russia skirmish has global shockwaves)

Solca estimated that Russians account for between 5 and 7 percent of global spending on personal luxury goods.

Shares in luxury industry leader LVMH had fallen 2.5 percent by mid-afternoon. Swatch Group was down 2.1 percent, Burberry 1.6 percent and Mulberry Group 2.7 percent. France's benchmark CAC-40 index was down 2.3 percent.

—By Reuters