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Reuters/Max Rossi
The Milanese wear the recession well.
LIPSTICK LITMUS

The only thing Italians are still spending money on is looking good

Italy
Jason Karaian
By Jason Karaian

Global finance and economics editor

Just because you need to cut back doesn’t mean you can’t look good doing it. In July, Italian retail sales dropped to their lowest point in 12 years, it was reported today. The country’s economy is teetering, with investors fretting about fragile banks and a renewed bout of political instability. It’s no wonder that consumers are wary.

But regardless of the economic forces at play, Italians haven’t lost their love of style, and that doesn’t just apply to the recent Milan Fashion Week. Personal grooming products were the only non-food items to post a rise in Italy’s latest retail sales report, which suggests that struggling Italians put on a brave (and beautiful) face. But their glamorous outward appearance may be hiding some inner turmoil: The second-best selling category was pharmaceuticals.

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