By Tamera Adams

Jeweler Tiffany & Co. thanked foreign tourists for the boost in holiday sales during its recent sales and earnings conference call, Reuters Shop Talk blog reported.

Retailers Saks, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman are doing just the opposite, however, limiting sales of designer handbags and shoes to deter foreign tourists from taking advantage of the weakened U.S. dollar and reselling the products in Europe and China.

Currently, the restrictions apply only to online sales of handbags and shoes from Prada and the Gucci Group labels (Gucci owns Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta). However, multiple in-store purchases of the same item may be questioned, according to The New York Times.

Ginger Reeder, a spokeswoman for Neiman Marcus, told the Times the store is protecting the vendors' products from "gray market" distribution. The sale of goods through unauthorized channels at a lower cost can diminish sales for luxury brands who have opened new, expensive shops in Europe and Asia—where their products typically sell for 20 percent to 40 percent more.

By imposing buying restrictions, Saks, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman may be helping the brand's international sales and bragging rights of exclusivity, but as sales of luxury goods continue to plummet in the United States, are the retailers doing themselves a disservice?

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