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Thanks to COVID, Luxe Business Is Booming

Pandemic inspired 'life can be short' mentality, record car sales, says Rolls-Royce CEO
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2022 9:50 AM CST
Rolls-Royce CEO: COVID Was Great for Business
Rolls Royce CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos poses for the media at Rolls-Royce Mayfair on Jan. 7, 2020.   (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

(Newser) – Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Lamborghini are among the luxury car brands to describe record sales in 2021, CNN reports. The reason, according to Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos: the high rate of COVID-19 deaths. "Quite a lot of people witnessed people in their community dying from COVID. That makes them think life can be short, and you'd better live now than postpone it to a later date," he tells the Financial Times, per Insider. "That also has helped [Rolls-Royce sales] quite massively." The subsidiary of BMW says it delivered 5,586 vehicles in 2021 for the highest-ever annual sales in its 117-year history, and a 49% increase over 2020. The starting price for 2021 models was $314,000, per People.

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Bentley of VW Group sold a record 14,659 vehicles, for a 31% increase over 2020. Rather than cite COVID-19 deaths, Bentley CEO Christophe Georges attributes the increase to a strong economic resurgence, low interest rates, and new vehicle models, per CNN. Lamborghini, also of VW Group, has yet to report its total sales, but it set an all-time global sales record of 6,902 vehicles through the first three quarters of 2021, per Fox Business. "This year is already higher than the best year ever," CEO Stephan Winkelmann said in December, per CNN. "People are just excited to be out in the world again and to be able to buy these cars and drive them there," North American CEO Andrea Baldi added, per Fox.

It's not just luxury car sales that are booming. The Bain & Company Luxury Study found luxury sales of personal goods, fine wines, and high-end furniture also exceeded 2019 levels last year. "It is very much due to COVID that the entire luxury business is booming worldwide," Muller-Otvos says, per the Guardian. "People couldn't travel a lot, they couldn't invest a lot into luxury services." But the richest of the rich are also enjoying significant increases in wealth. The world's 2,690 billionaires added $5.5 trillion in wealth during the pandemic, for a 68% increase over 2019 levels, the Institute for Policy Studies reported in August. In comparison, global billionaire wealth increased $5.35 trillion from 2006 to 2020. (Read more luxury goods stories.)

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