Ask any polo fanatic in Argentina what the three most important destinations are in Buenos Aires and they will tell you “Tortugas, Hurlingham and Palermo.” Ask any Polo fanatic the same question and they will tell you, “Recoleta, Calle Florida and Unicenter Shopping.”
The first three are the sites of the Triple Crown of Polo; the latter the three locations of Polo Ralph Lauren in Argentina, one of the most important markets for the global luxury brand in Latin America.
According to a company release, those three stores are now closing their doors due to a combination of import hurdles, inflation, currency controls and slowing inbound tourism to Buenos Aires.
Rumors of the closure first surfaced three months ago, and the company announced it was suspending operations yesterday. In closing its doors in Argentina, Ralph Lauren joins Calvin Klein, Cartier, Escada, Ermenegildo Zegna and Yves Saint Laurent who have all shuttered stores in Buenos Aires this year. Hermes and Louis Vuitton are on the fence. The luxury goods makers simply cannot break even, much less turn a profit, in countries with exorbitant import tariffs.
The same article from LaNacion also cites the recent downturn in Argentina hotel traffic which is undoubtedly impacting retail sales. According to government statistics, the number of foreign tourists staying in Argentine hotels in May (265,715) fell 11.5% compared to May 2011 and 8.2% (1.95 million) for the first five months of 2012 compared to the same period of 2011. (Full Story in Spanish)
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