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Oil Prices Are Hitting Texas Where It Hurts

Galleria shopping mall Dallas, Texas, USAGalleria shopping mall Dallas, Texas, USA
The oil slump has taken its toll at upscale malls like Galleria Dallas.Alamy Stock Photo

In the same way the fortunes of New York luxury emporiums like Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys move with Wall Street’s gyrations, upscale Texas stores rise and fall with the oil industry. So despite this year’s incipient oil comeback, Lone Star State retailers catering to the well-heeled are feeling the pain from the commodity’s bust.

The impact is as big as, well, Texas. By itself the state accounts for more than 10% of the $78-billion-a-year U.S. luxury market, and brands like Restoration Hardware (RH), Macy’s (M), and Dillard’s (DDS) are telling investors that Texas is a drag on revenue this year. Neiman Marcus, purveyor of ball gowns to generations of Dallas debutantes, has reported declining comparable sales for three quarters ­running—its worst spell since the Great Recession. The luxury department store, founded in downtown Dallas back in 1907, is a $5 billion national retailer, but seven of its 42 stores, including two of its three largest locations, are in Texas. “Our customers’ business interests are heavily dependent on the oil and gas industry,” Neiman CEO Karen Katz told investors.

It’s not just lower oil-industry employment that’s dinging luxury sales; it’s also energy companies’ stock. Despite a 2016 uptick, the S&P 500 Energy index is still down 30% compared with two years ago, making wealthy Texans feel a little less so. Add in a broader decline in shopping tourism from oil-rich countries like Brazil, Russia, and even Canada, and you have a recipe for an energy-slump-induced luxury malaise throughout the U.S.  Indeed, consulting firm Bain & Co. expects luxury to remain in a holding pattern for the rest of 2016. It may be a while before Houston’s shopping streets are paved in (black) gold again.

A version of this article appears in the August 1, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “Shopping in Texas Is Getting Less Glamorous.”