The weather started to get cold in both China and Russia a week ago and hopefully it will stay cold for awhile. Retail sales in China have just begun. Consumer spending on luxury items in China appears to be down from last year, but Chinese New Year is still two months away, so we still have additional time.
The Russian ruble is now at 54 rubles to the U.S. dollar. Last year it was at 32 – a sharp decline which is affecting consumer confidence. This will, of course, have an impact on Russian buying power in the auction room for this season. There is a sale of farmed sable in St. Petersburg next week, which should tell us some more about the market.
In North America, Europe and around the world, retail sales of long haired fur trim is starting off well. In Canada and the U.S., coyote trim is reportedly doing very well. This should have an immediate effect on all our coyote sales for the year.
Latest reports from Korea are that consumer confidence has not fully returned since the tragic ferry accident in April. Korea was a major taker of muskrats and pushed the price up substantially over the last couple of years. A number of Korean buyers are reporting that there is a potential that lower priced commercial mink will replace some of the muskrats.
In summary, the fur retail season has just started; trimming articles appear to be doing well, especially Western pale coyotes; and articles where Russia dominated, either through manufacturing in China or Greece, will see easier prices. Again, the most important factor for the next eight weeks will be cold weather in China and Russia especially.
Our buyer solicitation program has never been so aggressive as it is this year. We are on our second round of major workshops in China and at any given time over the last two months we have had from 8 to 13 people representing NAFA in this important market. Our fashion shows worldwide are ongoing and although the market shows uncertainties, you can be assured that NAFA will have the highest buyer attendance for wild fur in the world.