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Holiday Season Mini Survey

2022 Holiday Season Ends Down ‘but Decent’

Economic uncertainty, bad weather crimp sales.

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2022 Holiday Season Ends Down ‘but Decent’

2022 Holiday Season Ends Down ‘but Decent’

2022 Holiday Season Ends Down ‘but Decent’

2022 Holiday Season Ends Down ‘but Decent’

2022 Holiday Season Ends Down ‘but Decent’

THE 2022 HOLIDAY season was a mixed affair for independent jewelers as an uncertain economic outlook and bad weather teamed up to constrain consumer spending.

According to our final 2022 INSTORE Mini Survey, most jewelers saw their sales decline from the historically strong 2021 season although two-thirds still did better than expected or hit their targets.

Jewelers noted that while rising inflation appeared to be eating into the spending power of their lower-income customers, it also caused their better-heeled clients to hold back on purchases.

“The hardest part was that some of our top clients who normally spend $$$ didn’t spend anything. So while our day-to-day traffic was about the same as normal, we didn’t have those BIG tickets going out. In candid conversations with them, they all said the same thing: ‘We’re holding onto our purse strings right now’,” said Lucy Conklin, sales manager at Toner Jewelers in Overland Park, KS.

Becky Bettencourt, of Blue River Diamonds in Peabody, MA, said her experience was similar. “I think the economy definitely played a huge factor this year — people in general seemed to be be much more conservative with their budgets. I’m curious to see what Valentine’s Day will be like. If people are foregoing jewelry for Christmas maybe they will make it up for other occasions.”

A significant contributing factor to this year’s sales drop was the weather, as the “storm of the century” buried much of the country in ice and snow in the week before Christmas.

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“We got hit by the blizzard on the 20th and essentially lost almost three absolute prime days. That was very painful and we just couldn’t recover,” said Tom Nelson, owner of Nelson Jewelry in Spencer, IA. “That being said, we still had a pretty decent year. No increase but still pretty solid.”

The impact of the weather could be seen in foot traffic, with 57% of the jewelers in our survey reporting store visits had fallen compared to the 2021 holiday season, while only 13% saw an improvement in this area. Meanwhile, online traffic was little changed.

On a brighter note, ticket size increased from last year with 62% of jewelers reporting an average sale of above $500, and 27% posting an average sale of above $1,000.

Higher tickets meant better margins, which helped turn a weak season into a satisfactory one for many. Rex Solomon, owner of Houston Jewelry in Houston, TX, is a case in point. December was a roller-coaster ride for his store with sales swinging from being 15% ahead to ending down 9% but net gross profit was still up 10%. “So, all in all after a hard freeze, which is rare here, it has been better than expected,” he said.

Along with diamond studs (both natural and man-made), a perennial holiday season favorite, jewelers reported strong sales of hoops (“inside/out”), colored gemstone designs, and bracelets, especially of the tennis variety.

“Bracelets are back!” said Ellie Thompson of Ellie Thompson + Co. in Chicago, IL. “Many last-minute shoppers asked for bracelets. If I had had more of them, I would have sold more.”

Our third and final INSTORE Holiday Season Mini Survey was taken by 135 jewelers from across North America between Dec. 26-31. We’d like to thank everyone who took part and shared their experiences. Wishing you, and all our readers, an awesome 2023! – The INSTORE team.

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Moving Up — Not Out — with Wilkerson

Trish Parks has always wanted to be in the jewelry business and that passion has fueled her success. The original Corinth Jewelers opened in the Mississippi town of the same name in 2007. This year, Parks moved her business from its original strip mall location to a 10,000-square foot standalone store. To make room for fresh, new merchandise, she asked Wilkerson to organize a moving sale. “What I remember most about the sale is the outpouring excitement and appreciation from our customers,” says Parks. Would she recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers? “I would recommend Wilkerson because they came in, did what they were supposed to and made us all comfortable. And we met our goals.”

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