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4 Out of 5 Jewelers Surveyed Report Sales Decrease from Covid-19 Outbreak

20 percent go so far as to say sales have “cratered.”

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THE RESULTS FROM an INSTORE Brain Squad survey deployed Tuesday, March 17 reveals the dire consequences that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is having on the retail jewelry business. Of the nearly 200 retailers who responded, 60 percent said sales had dropped noticeably, with one-third of those saying sales had “cratered.” In total, four out of five jewelers surveyed said sales were down since the outbreak.

68 percent cited a dropoff in consumer traffic as the factor that’s had the biggest impact so far on their business, with another 11 percent saying that it’s the blow to consumer sentiment that has caused sales to falter.

Some store owners, like Rosanne Kroen of Rosanne’s Diamonds & Gold (South Bend, IN), are still doing some business but see nothing promising ahead: “We are rushing to complete special orders, but have no new ones last week. We are still doing well, but can see a slowdown coming.” Meanwhile, others, like Eve J. Alfille of Eve J. Alfille Gallery & Studio, are concerned because their client base is older, and therefore at most risk to the virus: “Lots of worries! Our customer base is older, will not leave the house for sure!”

A common theme among respondents was the uncertainty of what they — or the government at large — should do in balancing the needs of the economy with the risk of spreading COVID-19. As Kim Hatchell of Galloway & Moseley (Sumter, SC) wrote, “It’s a scary time and we need to take it seriously, but I am still uncertain about forcing closures of businesses … that seems like a guaranteed economy crash for a long time.”

That said, one retailer in Washington, the state hardest hit by COVID-19 so far, says that the rest of the country needs to take the coronavirus spread very seriously. “It is very scary. Not going to lie. We are in Seattle, and I am not sure they rest of the country understands the trajectory of this virus. We need to buckle down and do the right thing ASAP,” wrote Meg Rankin of J. Rankin Jewellers (Edmonds, WA).

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Laura Stanley of Laura Stanley Personal Jeweler (North Little Rock, AR), wondered how to get out the message that custom design and jewelry repair are a one-person job and can therefore continue as an option for clients: “There must be an opportunity. Jewelry manufacturing and bench work is a single-person proposition. How do we get clients to keep bringing work, since we don’t have to all work in crowded offices?”

Ultimately, no matter what retailers do, getting the message out to prospective customers — and convincing them to leave their homes and buy — is quite a challenge at the moment. As Bill Elliott of Ross Elliott Jewelers (Terre Haute, IN) wrote, “Although we’re open with the usual hours, quite a few of our customers think we’re closed. This is going to be a rough ride.”

Trace Shelton is the editor-in-chief of INSTORE magazine. He can be reached at [email protected].

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