Tiffany holiday sales slip as Chinese tourists spend less

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NEW YORK (AP) — Tiffany & Co. says holiday shoppers and Chinese tourists spent less on its bling.

The luxury jeweler, famous for its little blue boxes, says sales slipped in the holiday shopping season as Chinese tourists spent less while traveling due to the strong dollar, making it more expensive to buy Tiffany jewelry outside of its stores in China. The company also says it was hurt by the ups and downs of the stock market, anxiety around Brexit and protests in Paris that forced the company to close its store during some weekends.

All the uncertainty makes shoppers “more cautious” about spending, says CEO Alessandro Bogliolo.

The New York company said sales at established stores worldwide fell 2 percent in November and December compared to the same period the year before.

Tiffany’s holiday sales numbers came a day after the owner of Kay Jewelers and the Jared chains also reported a drop in sales. Parent company Signet Jewelers Ltd. said Thursday that fewer people came to its stores as competitors slashed prices in December.

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At Tiffany, Bogliolo says that even though Chinese customers spent less while traveling, sales are still growing at stores within China. Bogliolo says Tiffany stores in the U.S. will add digital payment options like Alipay to make it easier for Chinese tourists to make a purchase with their smartphones.

The New York-based company says it now expects earnings for the fiscal year ending in January to be at the lower end of its previous forecast of earnings between $4.65 per share and $4.80 per share.

Still, shares of Tiffany & Co. rose nearly 6 percent Friday afternoon.

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