Cold Russian Winter Would Help Fur Prices

by Parker Dozhier, T&PC contributor

Editor’s Note: This is only an abridged version of a larger report about fur market prices. Click here to subscribe to the magazine and read the latest market news.

Parker Dozhier

Parker Dozhier

Free World economies continue reeling from the Euro crisis. The euro, the common currency of 17 nation states, seems destined to history. Banks are reluctant to make business loans. When they do offer loans, particularly in Italy, interest rates are extremely high. Yet, here at home, our fur trade remains on a path toward growth.

Country fur buyers are still somewhat cautious. In most cases, the venture capital needed to put a fur collection together is coming out of the buyers’ own pockets. Sure, it’s a gamble, but at least they know there’s a possible up side.

Some of this caution could quickly be set aside by the end of December. Two factors come into play: Weather in Russia, Eastern Europe, Northern China and, equally as important, the ranch mink, fox and sable early auctions.

Initially, Russia was poised for a normal frigid winter with early fall temperatures ranging around freezing. But December turned unseasonably mild with very little snow and warmer days.

The early sable sale hosted by Sojuzpushnina in St. Petersburg on Sept. 7 was canceled. A week later, a “clean-up” sale of leftover ranch mink in Copenhagen was a success by any measure. Then too, the September ranch fox auction was also a success. Considering the nature of these offerings, prices were high.

Country fur buyers and market watchers viewed these events as positive signals. However, there was the lingering question: Was this merely the filling of immediate needs; orders unfilled?

The next round of auctions will set the stage of what we can expect of the overall strength of the fur trade.

Luxury markets appear to be holding, and in some markets, such as China, Korea and Japan, there are signals of significant expansion. We’ll soon see. Thousands of ranch and wild Russian sable will cross the auction block on Dec. 9 and 10. Within weeks, huge numbers of ranch mink and foxes will be offered in Kopenhagen Fur Auctions and the Finish Fur Sales.

Should these three major sales post good clearance and prices that hold at current levels or even advance slightly, demand will certainly spill over to our wild fur. Our wild furs plays well in the growing trim and accessory trade.

This trim demand reaches well beyond muskrats and marten since long hair trim items are becoming a fashion rage among young, upwardly mobile shoppers in developing markets. In Japan, a coyote-trimmed denim jacket is a “must-have” garment addition for young people. That alone is a huge potential market.

China’s unprecedented economic growth was built on goods manufactured for export. Export of finished fur garments is an important component of this foreign trade. Exports from China are suffering from retracted consumer spending in North America and Western Europe. While export remains the mainstay of China’s economy, domestic consumption seems to be picking up some of the slack. Again, furs are a new luxury for many Chinese shoppers.

Russia is an important market for wild furs. With crude oil topping $100 per barrel, vast quantities of oil are flowing out of Russia and dollars are flowing in.

All we need is a cold, bitter winter there to keep the flow of fur into this major market. Time will tell.

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