By Tamera Adams

Maryland state tax increased from 5 percent to 6 percent. The Washington Post raised its newsstand price from 35 cents to 50 cents. General Motors increased the price of its 2008 automobiles by as much as $1,500. These are but a few of the new-year price hikes that have the average consumer clutching her wallet in anticipation of a recession.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the affluent also rang in 2008 with a hesitance toward spending, an attitude that already has luxury retailers discounting goods and cautioning analysts about their earnings. The Luxury Institute predicts that luxury sales will only increase at a rate of 5 percent to 9 percent, numbers well below the double-digit growth seen in previous years.

The article reported that Neiman Marcus Chief Executive Burt Tansky said "we've gone through it before" and that he expressed confidence that Neiman Marcus won't lose its customers.

"This customer does not trade down, she does not change venues, she does not leave us," Tansky was quoted.

He thinks the customer will simply shop a little less.

Department store chains that offer a variety of high-end goods such as Neiman Marcus may not lose the majority of its customer base. But what strategies can jewelry retailers use to stay afloat as the tides of economic change continue to threaten luxury spending?

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