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Jewelers Report Grimmer Holiday Mood

Many are lowering their sales expectations, INSTORE found in its second 2018 Holiday Season Mini Survey.

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THE MOOD OF JEWELERS turned decidedly grimmer in the second week of December, with store owners and managers sharply lowering their expectations for the 2018 holiday season. More than one in three, or 34 percent, of respondents to our second holiday mini survey described the season so far as “disappointing” or “dismal,” up from just 20 percent who were that negative in our first survey taken on Dec. 6.

The proportion of jewelers doing “better than expected” or having a “terrific” season also shrank, from 27 percent to 21 percent. The rest said sales had so far been in line with expectations.

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“I think Trump’s tariffs causing the stock market to crash, as well as the threat of recession, is hurting us. Internet sales are also becoming more of a factor,” said Michael Rumanoff of Rumanoff’s Fine Jewelry and Design, Hamden, CT.

Yet, many jewelers remain hopeful for a strong finish to the season, similar to what happened last year, with some noting that their early sales had been dominated by self-purchasers as opposed to bigger-spending gift-buyers.

“I think it’s going to be a late buying year. We’ve had some nice sales but there’s no sense of urgency yet,” said Marc Majors, owner of Sam L. Majors, a fifth-generation jeweler in Midland, TX.

HOW DO YOU RATE YOUR HOLIDAY SEASON SO FAR?

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Meanwhile, some jewelers are already plotting adjustments to their strategy in 2019, including changes to their marketing and inventory.

“Already wish I’d done a little different marketing,” said Julee Johnson, owner of Julee’s Jewelry in Mankato, MN. “But I know what to change in the coming year. Facebook can be good, but don’t rely only on it. We use it along with radio and direct mail, but our tracking shows it’s not the only answer.”

Mark Snyder, owner of Snyder Jewelers in Weymouth, MA, said his holiday season had been hectic and he was expecting to top his historical numbers. But he noted his customers’ focus was clearly on custom-designed jewelry. “We will definitely consider carrying less inventory next year. People simply want custom (at least 15-20 days out). It’s not like our inventory mix is wrong. People come through the door with a custom design in mind and their own gemstones. They aren’t looking and NOT seeing what they want, because they aren’t looking at all.”

HOW IS CUSTOMER TRAFFIC COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?

In addition to the strong custom design trend, which was reported across the country, the other pattern being noted was rising average tickets but falling traffic. Almost half, or 46 percent, of survey respondents reported fewer customers were coming in their doors compared with the 2017 season, while 35 percent said their average ticket was up and a further 46 percent said it had held steady.

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

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Diamond studs, pendants, engagement rings, and other high-end items led the way.

“Diamond anything,” was how Kim Hatchell, manager of Galloway & Moseley in Sumter, SC, described her best sellers.

HOW IS YOUR AVERAGE TICKET COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?

INSTORE’s 2018 Holiday Season Mini Survey No. 2 was sent to the Brain Squad on Monday and answered by more than 120 jewelers across North America. We will send a third installment after the coming weekend. If you’d like to become a member of the Brain Squad, and get access to all the respondent data, please sign up HERE.

Chris Burslem is Group Managing Editor at SmartWork Media.

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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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