THE OPENING WEEKEND of the 2022 holiday season offered a mixed bag to independent jewelers, with about as many reporting sales were down from the corresponding period last year as those saying they were up, and the remaining half saying they were much the same.
Even among the various days that make up Black Weekend, jewelers noted big swings in sales performance.
“Biggest Black Friday in our history, worst Small Business Saturday and a terrible Cyber Monday,” Tom Duma, owner of Thom Duma Fine Jewelers in Warren, OH, told our first INSTORE Holiday Season Mini Survey of 2022.
For some jewelers, it made for an ominous start.
“This is the first holiday season ever that I’ve been absolutely terrified about people spending,” said Andrea Riso, owner of Talisman Collection in El Dorado Hills, CA. “Hopefully their spending is just going to be late this year. Because if it keeps up like this, I’ll be out of business after December. This is all surprising because we had a generally pretty good year.”
To be sure, the days immediately after Thanksgiving aren’t peak selling days for most jewelers. Many shoppers are focused on snapping up Black Friday deals and this year there was a protracted election, talk of another recession in the air and other events vying for consumers’ attention. Moreover, last year’s historically strong holiday season set a high base that makes positive on-year comps challenging.
Among the early trends emerging this year: online traffic has been slightly up (Fig. 3), while in-store traffic has been slightly down (Fig. 4),. Average ticket also appears to be marginally higher with the majority of jewelers reporting an average sale of above $500 (Figs. 5-6). As for the categories selling well, it appears to be shaping up as a year for the classics with diamond stud earrings getting plenty of mentions, although with lab-grown diamonds also entering the conversation in a big way. That’s a positive, but typically means more work, noted Susan Eisen of Susan Eisen Fine Jewelry & Watches in El Paso, TX. “Diamonds are always good (holiday sellers) but now have to spend more time discussing the pros and cons or natural and lab grown.”
With still four more weeks to go, there’s still plenty of time for the year to end strong.
And to an extent, jewelers have history to fall back on: “Like the past several years, slow out of the gate with a wild sprint to the finish,” is how Stew Brandt of H. Brandt Jewelers in Natick, MA, expects the season will go. We wish all our readers a similarly hectic finale.
The first INSTORE Holiday Season Mini Survey was taken by 76 jewelers from across North America. We will send out more surveys to our Brain Squad in the weeks to come. Sign up hereif you’d like to participate in the surveys and see all the raw data as it flows in from independent jewelers across the country.