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10 Takeaways from the 2020 INSTORE Big Survey

The pandemic dominated the questions and answers, but there was still much more that our readers shared with us.

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EVERY YEAR INSTORE’s Big Survey yields a mass of fascinating data about the business practices and lives of American jewelers. In 2020, as it did in so many areas of life, the pandemic dominated the questions and answers, but there was still so much more that our readers shared with us. Here are some of the top takeaways.

1. Nearly two-thirds of the jewelers who took our 2020 Big Survey expected their earnings to contract this year because of the economic havoc wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, a stronger-than-expected holiday season has allowed many of them to rebound from the worst months of the pandemic.

2. Jewelers predicted the top three “permanent changes” to the way they do business as a result of COVID-19 would be increased hygiene protocols (61%), more selling online (44%), and the use of video in interactions with staff, vendors and customers (27%).

3. As it became apparent how serious the impact of the pandemic would be the government stepped in with a $2.2 trillion aid package. Jewelers got in line, with 76% accessing the Paycheck Protection Program, 37% Economic Injury Disaster Loans and 21% special SBA loans.

4. When times get tough, gold becomes relevant — and expensive. In all, 30% of jewelers told the 2020 Big Survey that they had boosted their gold buying off the street this year.

5. In a year of so much change and upheaval, one thing remained constant – the brands at the top of our best performing list: For jewelry, Gabriel & Co, Stuller and Allison-Kaufman once again took out the top three spots. For watches, there was one change: Seiko slipped from No. 2 to No. 4, meaning the top three this year were Citizen, Rolex and Bulova.

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6. Jewelers are showing they have come to terms with online selling with a with clear majority saying they had managed to complete a sale via their website or through another online platform. Facebook was the No. 1 social media platform for successfully closing a sale, with 56 percent of jewelers completing a transaction on one of FB’s commercial channels, followed by Instagram (32 percent) and eBay (18%). Note that 70% of jewelers had managed to sell jewelry via their own website.

7. Lab-grown diamonds continue to make inroads into independent jewelry stores, with more than half of jewelers, or 52%, now stocking the once-controversial merchandise. That is up from 10% just four years ago.

8. If the long-awaited election proved anything, it’s that the country remains deeply divided. Jewelers were no different. He may have lost the election, but Donald Trump was the clear preference of jewelers with 55% of the store owners in our survey saying they intended to vote for the Republicans’ man compared to just 33% for the Democrats’ Joe Biden.

9. Looking ahead to what we all hope will be a better year, jewelers said their top priority in 2021 would be growth (24%), followed by boosting profitability (23%) and clearing old inventory (18%). Twelve percent said they just hoped to survive.

10. A last stat but an important one for us, the 2020 INSTORE attracted a record participation with more than 875 jewelers taking the survey. Florida was the top state for survey responses (more than 50 responses), and the Midwest the top region, generating 28% of the results. We’ll be doing it again next year. If you took part this year, we again thank you. If not, please look out for next year’s survey around August. We’d love to include your data and thoughts.

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Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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