Recessions don't affect everybody equally. According to Newsweek, the total number of worldwide billionaires jumped 20 percent in 2008 [source: Theil]. Forbes counted a record number of billionaires in 2013 — 1,426 — while several parts of the economy were still recovering from the recession [source: Reuters]. Many of these über-rich live in Russia, the Middle East and Asia and have no problem splurging for a jumbo private jet or their very own sun-soaked island in the Mediterranean. The number of millionaires in India grew 22 percent over 2007-2008 and China witnessed a 15 percent bump in millionaires in 2011 [sources: Smith and New].
In the U.S., sales of ultra-luxury goods like $1,500 pairs of shoes or diamond-encrusted handbags slumped sharply in early 2009, but companies like Hermès and LVMH more than made up with Chinese sales [source: Masidlover and Passariellor]. As early as 2011, luxury retailers were some of the first to bounce back in the U.S., with brands like Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent boasting a 23 percent increase in sales while more modest retailers were starving for customers [sources: Clifford, Reeves]. One luxury car dealership in Manhattan specializing in Lamborghini, Bentley and Rolls-Royce models — each retailing in the low six figures — said 2011 was one of its best sales year ever [source: Gross].