With energy prices in the clouds and consumer confidence under water, only one retail trend looks like a safe bet for Christmas: rich people. While low-income and middle-class shoppers will be dealing this winter with pump pain and soaring home heating bills, such trifles won't stop the wealthiest Americans from buying jewelry at Tiffany ( TIF) and designer handbags at Coach ( COH). Fine, but that's been true for years. Investors worried about growth might wonder where it's supposed to come from if only the upper crust is spending. A growing contingent of Wall Street is looking across the Pacific Ocean. Last year at this time, Tiffany shareholders cringed at the mere mention of Japan. Once seen as the new frontier for the iconic jeweler, the country was mired in a decade-long recession. Tiffany's Japanese stores hadn't recorded a quarterly same-store sales gain since the second quarter of 2003. With roughly a quarter of the company's total revenue coming from Japan, the results hamstrung the stock, which dropped about 29% in 2004 and made little progress in last year's post-election rally. This year, Tiffany shares have gained traction, up about 19% since New Year's, approaching $38 -- more than 20 times Wall Street's earnings estimates for 2007. They got their biggest pop in early September, when the jeweler reported that it finally eked out a 1% jump in same-store sales in Japan for its second quarter. That reversed a 10% decline in the previous quarter, and investors sensed that the long-awaited Asian turnaround could be at hand. Last November, the company named Michael Christ, the former head of its domestic retail operations, as the head of Tiffany & Co. Japan. Christ has since been focusing on new products, new stores and improved marketing for the division. To be sure, betting that one quarter of positive comps will lead to a sustained improvement is a risky proposition. But given trends in the U.S. retail market and the underlying stability of Tiffany's business, it's a wager that probably has more upside than down.