The luxury fashion market is being propped up by average consumers, including seniors and younger buyers, rather than traditional high-end shoppers, new research has found.

The research from American Express Business Insights compares in-store and online spending at premium and discount luxury merchants in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year.

And it reveals several compelling trends in luxury fashion spending both in the US and abroad. This includes average seniors' growing penchant for flash sales and, at the other end of the demographic spectrum, the emerging luxury fixation of younger average consumers.

The report '2011 Spend Sights Special Report: Global Luxury Fashion Spending,' identified a group of "fashion enthusiasts" represented by the consumers that make up the top 5% of annual spend in apparel and accessories.

This group's spending was compared against all other "average" luxury fashion consumers in the US, the UK, France, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia.

Key findings show that compared to last year, average consumers are leading spend in luxury fashion over the traditional enthusiast across the US, Europe and Asia.

Seniors were also found to be first in line to explore online luxury bargain hunting - with spending up by 124% during the first half of 2011 over the same period last year.

And average Gen Y and Gen X consumers are taking advantage of the opportunity for luxury brand fashion purchases, while Gen Y and Gen X fashion enthusiasts are spending less on premium luxury fashion.

"Luxury fashion has long relied upon its industry enthusiasts to drive spending," explains Ed Jay, senior vice president at American Express Business Insights.

"However, we're seeing not only a slowdown in spending by this group, but a shift to value purchases such as those found on a growing number of flash sale and discount websites.

"In the meantime, the average consumer is now taking advantage of luxury retailers looking to woo consumers to their stores."