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Big Survey

1 in 4 Jewelers Plans Never to Retire

Finding underscores precarious state of most jewelers’ exit plans.




Before I’m 45
After 75
Despite much talk in recent years about boomers being forced to keep working well past the normal retirement age, jewelers appear happy to do so, something that hasn’t changed in more than a decade. In 2010, one-third of jewelers (33%) told the Big Survey they didn’t plan to retire until they were at least 75, if ever. This year, that portion was 35%.


MOST JEWELERS STILL expect to be working past the age of 65 and one in four plan to never retire, according to the 2021 INSTORE Big Survey. It’s a finding that management consultant David Brown finds worrisome.

“It’s scary that over 80 percent plan to retire after the age of 65 with a whopping 26 percent planning never to retire —which to me is code for, I will never be in a position to be able to retire.

“Nearly a third plan to retire after 70! That’s pretty old and there are no guarantees that they will still be in good health by that age,” says Brown, CEO of the Edge Retail Academy.

The 2021 Big Survey also found that few jewelers have a solid retirement plan in place and many admitted their pensions are underfunded. Most jewelers appear to be pinning their hopes and selling their store or inventory to secure their finances in their final years. According to the 2021 Big Survey, 38 percent of owners plan to pass on their store or sell it to someone in the family or to a staff member, while 21 percent expect to hold a GOB sale and close the store.

“All of these are options, but they all require a plan, a timeline, some due diligence etc. well ahead of time,” Brown say, pointing to another finding in the survey that the last of these options (a GOB sale) is “typically not their preferred option.”

“It is what happens when they don’t have other plans or they have failed to groom their business to take advantage of other options.”

To be sure many jewelers obviously love their work and can’t think of anything else they’d like to do. Asked about their feelings about retiring and the answers ranged from “excited” to “apprehensive.” “I don’t know what to think,” said one jeweler. “I love this.”

Brown said that regardless of how jewelers felt about their jobs, they should be asking themselves: At what age do you plan to be in a position to retire? “At least then they can genuinely choose” how to spend the last decades of their life.

The 2021 Big Survey was carried out between August and September, attracting almost 700 anonymous responses from owners of independent jewelry stores across the United States and Canada. The full results can be found online here.



She Wanted to Spend More Time with Her Kids. She Called Wilkerson.

Your children are precious. More precious than gold? Absolutely! Just ask Lesley Ann Davis, owner of Lesley Ann Jewels, an independent jewelry store that — until the end of 2023 — had quite a following in Houston, Texas. To spend more time with her four sons, all in high school, she decided to close her store. Luckily, she was familiar with Wilkerson and called them as soon as she knew she wanted to move on to bigger, better and more family-focused things. Was she happy with her decision? Yes, she was. Says Davis, “Any owner looking to make that life change, looking to retire, looking to close, looking for a pause in their career, I would recommend Wilkerson. Hands down!”

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