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2018 Holiday Season So Far: Not Bad, Just Not Terrific

Many say the season is still in line with their expectations.

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INDEPENDENT JEWELERS moderated their view of the 2018 holiday season in the last week, with more describing it as disappointing but fewer also saying it was either dismal or terrific. About one in three said it was still in line with their expectations.

HOW DO YOU RATE THE HOLIDAY SEASON SO FAR?

Jewelers had gone into the season with high hopes — our Jewelers Confidence Index reached a year’s high at the beginning of November — but with just over a week to go until Christmas Day, the most common description of the season was that it had failed to live up to its billing.

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“Analysts were predicting a better holiday season this year than last. But sales are about the same, which is disappointing because we were expecting higher growth,” said Lyla Ismael of Lyla Jewelers, in Oak Lawn, IL.

Respondents blamed their slightly subdued sales so far on the stock market slump, politics, the prolonged holiday season following an early Thanksgiving, increased online competition, and the weather among other factors. Several admitted to being slightly bewildered by how things were turning out.

HOW IS THE CUSTOMER TRAFFIC COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?

“Just surprised after a strong November that December could be so soft,” said Tom Duma, owner of Thom Duma Fine Jewelers in Warren, OH. “Not sure if it’s because of the General Motors closing plant announcement or Trump and his antics with a government shutdown, China trade deal, or the volatility in the stock market. I had high hopes for December but after 16 days I don’t see it coming back,” he said.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR AVERAGE SALE SO FAR FOR THIS HOLIDAY PERIOD

Average ticket continued to be strong for most jewelers, with 35 percent of the survey respondents saying it was above $500 and 36 percent saying it was up over last year’s average sale.

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Indeed, it was the loss of smaller ticket items that seemed to be hurting jewelers the most.

“Love those large-ticket items but I am really missing the $500-800 bread-and-butter items we have grown to expect to leave in droves. I hope I am proven wrong over the coming week,” said Denise Oros, owner of Linnea Jewelers in La Grange, IL.

David Abrams, of Grand Jewelers in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, said he believes the “$500 and under sales have migrated to the web,” suggesting jewelers face a tough time in winning them back.

HOW IS YOUR AVERAGE TICKET COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?

To be sure, the overall picture was not gloomy. Many jewelers reported strong sales and healthy margins and many were still hopeful there would be a late surge of buyers. More also seem to be realizing they need to tweak the way they do business in 2018.

“The dollars come later and later every year,” said Dennis Petimezas, of Watchmakers Diamonds & Jewelry, Johnstown, PA. “I finally got smart and reversed November/December marketing dollars. Majority advertising in December, minority in November. Sent ‘Free’ money ($50 and $100 bill images incorporated in body of letter) to be used as actual money in any way on merchandise in store to our top customers. It’s working!”

Our third 2018 holiday season was sent to INSTORE’s Brain Squad on Monday morning and answered by more than 135 jewelers across the country.

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Chris Burslem is Group Managing Editor at SmartWork Media.

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Cleaning House for a New Generation

At Komara Jewelers in Canfield, Ohio, Wilkerson handled all the aspects of its retirement sale just as owner Bob Komara’s children took over day-to-day operations of the business. They’d used other companies before, says Brianna Komara-Pridon, but they didn’t compare. “If we had used Wilkerson then, it would have been so much better.”

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Jeweler Pummels Would-Be Robber with Martial Arts — Watch the Video

The 74-year-old store owner used Israeli Krav Maga.

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A 74-year-old jeweler in Hollywood, FL, used Krav Maga, an Israeli martial arts style, to fight off a would-be robber.

Daniel Stetton, owner of DHS Oakwood Jewelers, said the man had bought a gold chain months ago, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Stetton offered to fix it, but the man wanted a replacement.

Stetton refused, and the man went behind the counter to grab a new chain himself.

Stetton confronted him, employing some of the Krav Maga he learned while serving in the Israeli Army decades ago.

The incident was captured on surveillance video.

He said he had no choice but to protect his business.

“I didn’t expect I would have to use it one day,” the Sun-Sentinel quoted him saying. “But, what are you going to do?”

Stetton’s wife joined the fray, swinging a yardstick at the culprit.

The man, looking dazed, grabbed his broken chain and left the store.

Police are looking for the suspect.

Read more at the Sun-Sentinel

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Jeff Unger, President of Alisa Unger Designs and Long-Time INSTORE Contributor, Dies at Age 57

He fought cancer for 10 years and inspired many with his resilience and positive attitude.

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Jeff Unger

Jeff Unger, president and co-owner of B & N Jewelry (d.b.a. Alisa Unger Designs) with his wife Alisa, passed away due to complications caused by renal carcinoma cancer on February 7, 2019 at the age of 57.

Jeff was an avid golfer, and when he was diagnosed with cancer, he became the coach for a local high school golf team at Weber High. He spent the last 10 years of his life teaching the game he loved to kids and adults with disabilities via the Adaptive Golf program and the MDE School. He loved his wife, Alisa, dearly and was married just shy of 33 years. Together they had two children, Brandi and Jason. As a family, they loved to travel, try new restaurants, spend time together, and most importantly, laughed together.

Jeff served as treasurer for the Southern Jewelry Travelers Association (SJTA), which produces the Atlanta Jewelry Show. He was also one of the founders of the Prime Jewelry Group.

Throughout his life, Jeff gave back to his community and to causes close to his heart. After losing a sister and sister-in-law to breast cancer, Jeff and Alisa started the foundation, Me & My Two Friends, which still runs today, donating money to breast cancer research.

Jeff fought cancer for 10 years, but not without a smile on his face. His outstanding resilience and unquenchable thirst for life were deeply inspirational to all that knew him.

Here at INSTORE, we knew Jeff as a shrewd person of business and in life, and as a friendly face we could always count on seeing at industry trade shows. Jeff contributed many columns over the years to INSTORE, writing from a supplier’s perspective and calling on both retailers and suppliers to improve communication and their working relationships. He authored a monthly e-newsletter called “The Mind Massage,” in which he would write on various business-related topics, often relating his advice back to the game of golf and almost always encouraging his readers to smile more and to connect with their fellow humans. We will miss him.

Read one of our favorite Jeff Unger columns, “Just Say Hello,” here.

And read more of Jeff’s writing for INSTORE here.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the following organizations:

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Newspaper Tracks Down Billionaire Jeweler Suspected in $2B Fraud

Nirav Modi has been staying in a high-dollar London apartment.

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British newspaper The Telegraph tracked down Nirav Modi, the billionaire jeweler who’s suspected in a $2 billion fraud case in India, in London.

He’s been staying in a high-dollar apartment in London’s West End, according to the newspaper.

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Last year, The New York Times described Modi as being “on the run” and noted that figuring out his location had become something of a “national pastime” in India.

He’s remained at-large despite Interpol’s issuance of a reed notice for his arrest in July, The Telegraph reports.

The newspaper, which has described Modi as “India’s most wanted man,” posted a video of the jeweler on Twitter, with Modi replying “sorry, no comment” to a reporter’s questions.

The New York Times reports that India is waiting for a reply from Britain regarding an extradition request. The Telegraph later reported that that the UK had agreed to the extradition.

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Modi is at the center of a fraud case involving Punjab National Bank, where employees are “suspected to have steered fraudulent loans” to Modi’s businesses, Reuters has reported.

Modi is apparently involved in a new new diamond business in the UK, according to The Telegraph.

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