Retailers track a demographic they call HENRYs: high-earning but not rich yet people. They believe the spending of the HENRYs supported economic growth since the 2009 bottom. They now believe the HENRYs are pulling back their spending plans, and that’s causing problems for retailers and eventually the economy. Retail analysts see HENRYs as the bellweathers of the economy. It’s not clear if HENRY’s are causes of economic growth trends or simply respond to what’s happening in the economy and therefore might be more timely indicators of the condition of the economy than government economic data.
They are influential because they interact with a wide range of retail brands, Danziger said. They’re regular customers at such “accessible” luxury purveyors as Coach Inc. (COH), Tiffany and Restoration Hardware Inc. as well as premium mass brands like Ann Taylor, Gap Inc. (GPS)’s Banana Republic and Williams-Sonoma Inc. (WSM) They splurge on pricier names like Chanel and Hermes, and they shop at discounters.
In 2010, retailers didn’t need Henrys to come roaring back. The demographic above them, the so-called ultra-affluents who belong to the top 2 percent of earners, went shopping again after the 2009 recession forced even them to cut back.