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Holiday Season Mini Survey

Jewelers End the Year with a Joyous Jump in Sales

60% topped their pre-COVID holiday numbers, according to INSTORE survey.

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AGAINST PRETTY MUCH all expectations, independent jewelers reported a very strong holiday season to bring an eventful, mostly horrible year, to an end.

Sixty percent of the jewelers who responded to our final 2020 Holiday Season Mini Survey said they beat their 2019 holiday sales – which was, of course, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit — with more than two-thirds describing their store’s performance as either “better-than expected” or “terrific.” Twenty-seven percent did worse than last year and the remaining 13 percent said they came in on par with 2019’s numbers.

“I’ll take another Christmas like this one any year,” said Eileen Eichhorn, owner of Eichhorn Jewelry in Decatur, IN, whose December sales were up more than 25 percent over the same month in 2019.

The drivers of the sales surge were the same ones that have underpinned the whole season: house-bound consumers with cash on hand thanks to travel restrictions, people looking to express their love for close ones during a difficult time, and a renewed focus on community ties, including supporting small business owners. A change in shopping patterns observed earlier in the season also held steady with more shoppers browsing online but being more deliberate in their purchasing when they made it into the store. They also spent more, with 55 percent of the jewelers reporting their average ticket was up over last year.

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Best sellers in the last week of the holiday season included custom orders and earrings, especially diamond studs, which again seemed to reflect the current times. “Diamond studs! In times of economic crisis, people gravitate towards classic and understated pieces of jewelry,” said Jennifer Hornik Johnson, owner of Miller’s Jewelry in Bozeman, MT.

After such a tumultuous year dominated by disease, social discord and political division, many jewelers are not surprisingly are now looking to the future with some apprehension although also fortified by the lessons they’ve learned in 2020. Of particular interest, is whether shopping behaviors really have changed for good.

“We will recover from the pandemic, we will recover from social and political unrest but will we recover from Amazon/the Internet,” asked Marc Majors, owner of Sam L. Majors in Midland, TX. “More people got accustomed to buying online this year and I’m afraid it’s tarnished normal consumerism and will for quite some time if not forever.”

Speaking for many, Vance Reusch, owner of Reusch Jewelers in Petoskey, MI, said we’re probably just going to have to get used to such uncertainty: “Unpredictable is the new norm.”

The last of our INSTORE 2020 Holiday Season Mini Surveys was sent out on Monday morning and attracted more than 100 responses from jewelry-store owners and managers in our Brain Squad readers group. Note that this was about half the number of our previous surveys. We suspect many of our Squad members were taking a well-earned break after an arduous holiday season and challenging year.

We thank everyone who took part in the surveys and wish all our readers a terrific 2021.

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