THE retail sector slump has hit upmarket department store chain Hong Kong Seibu, resulting in a 10 per cent fall in the sale of designer-label clothes. Upmarket shoppers appear to have their wallets tightly closed, contrary to the belief that consumers in the high-income sector were shielded from the spending downturn. The 10 per cent drop in the sale of 'designer' clothes was recorded during the summer season, between March and August, compared with the same period last year. Marketing division manager Raymond Leung said: 'Customers are more selective. They will go back to designer clothes only for special occasions.' Mr Leung said the store was reducing inventories on individual designers, introducing more varieties and a wider range of international labels. The selling of fashion contributed 60 per cent of the total turnover in the store. The company had already reduced its dependence on luxury merchandise by introducing more medium-priced products. High-cost goods used to make up 70 per cent of store's inventory value, while medium-priced merchandise contributed the rest. The ratio of luxury goods was now 53.84 per cent. The store saw poor demand for household goods. Sales of furniture, crystal ornaments and silverware and other household merchandise had slower growth compared with last year, Mr Leung said. Household products accounted for about 10 per cent of turnover. Despite setbacks in high fashion and household items, the store maintained a 16 per cent growth in turnover for the year to October compared to the previous year. Overall sales between March and August surged 25 per cent, supported mainly by the yield from medium-price fashion and an excellent performance in food and wine. Food and beverages contributed 20 per cent of the total turnover. Loft, an in-house gift shop wholly owned by Seibu, accounted for the remaining 10 per cent.