On Wednesday, Ken Chenault said that high-income earners were pulling back on their spending -- in contrast to previous periods of economic downturn. He should know: As the CEO of upscale payment card issuer American Express
That spells bad news for AmEx and its competitors Visa
Last month, at the 2008 Luxury Briefing Conference, Claire Kent -- a former Head of Luxury Research at Morgan Stanley -- said the "bursting of the 'It' bag bubble" was imminent. She also singled out brands whose strategy relies on customers "trading up" as being particularly vulnerable. That's two strikes against handbag and accessories maker Coach
Bad for chic, good for cheap
For investors, it's not all bad news, though. When consumers are forced to trade down instead of up, that can create opportunity for a different set of companies. Target's
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Fool contributor Alex Dumortier, CFA has a beneficial interest in Coach, but not in any of the other companies mentioned in this article. Wal-Mart Stores and American Express Company are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Coach is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. The Fool owns shares of American Express Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.