Connect with us

Holiday Season Mini Survey

Jewelers Report Strong Close to Holiday Season

mm

Published

on

SANTA, WHO SEEMED to have gone AWOL in recent years, turned up in a big way at the end of 2019, delivering happy surprises and loads of joy to jewelers. That was pretty much the conclusion of our final INSTORE mini survey, with nearly half of the responding store-owners rating the season as either “terrific” or “better than expected,” while another third said it was in line with their mostly high expectations.

In 2018 by contrast, less than a third of jewelers were similarly positive at the end of the holiday season.

“Customers were excited about Christmas again,” said Tim Sherrer of Lou’s Jewelry in Mobile, AL. “We have not seen that in 10 years.”

The more than 100 respondents to the survey, taken just ahead of the New Year break, attributed their strong sales to a combination of the robust economy, and in particular the booming stock market, a rebound in farm prices, and the benign winter weather in much of the country.
“It’s got to be the economy,” said Eve J. Alfille, owner of the Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio in Evanston, IL. “My customers respond best to the stock market, and they seemed positively giddy this season.”

Advertisement

The late Thanksgiving and short selling season also seemed to help. “Loved the short season as my staff never seemed to get exhausted this year. Was over almost as soon as it got started,” said Steve Floyd of Floyd & Green in Aiken, SC

While nearly one-third of the jewelers said the season fell short of their expectations, most had set the bar high, such as Cathy Graves of Ellis Jewelers in Frankfort, IN. “Up 40 percent at mid-year, ended up 19 percent,” she said. “Nothing to complain about but, really, I worked too hard for this — I had hopes.”

Store owners reported that foot traffic was down marginally this season compared with last year (see Chart 2), but that was more than offset by an improvement in average ticket price, with most jewelers seeing gains in their typical sale and more than half reporting an average ticket over $500 (see Chart 3)

Diamond jewelry of all types featured prominently when we asked what had sold well, along with quite a bit of custom and other bench work.
“This year it was remount, remount, remount. From the number of engagement diamonds being remounted as fashion rings I expect that the next influx of clients will be divorce lawyers,” joked James Doggett, owner of Doggett Jewelry in Kingston, NH.

With a successful season under their belts, jewelers can now turn their attention to 2020 and to dealing with the ever-evolving nature of modern retail.

The holiday season will continue to be important although it is unlikely to remain the make or break period that it has been in the past, said some jewelers. “The big gift is shifting to non-holiday special occasions,” noted Dennis Miller of Miller’s Fine Jewelry in O’Fallon, MO.

Advertisement

Online sales are also gaining in importance and this is an area that jewelers are finally showing some mastery. Julie Terwilliger of Wexford Jewelers in Cadillac, MI, said her e-commerce website provided a nice added revenue stream during the holiday period, supported by an offer of free shipping. “Offering a few unique pieces that can only be found at our store helped drive clients directly to us,” she said. “We also tried out a ‘wow’ card promotion of $50 off $250 for our VIP clients and had a great response.”

Great feelings for 2020

Ready for a New Year

“The jewelry business is changing faster and we had better be prepared to change also. Christmas used to be two month’s take rolled into one. Now its just a good month.. for which we are, of course, very grateful.”

 

It may be an anomaly

“Christmas is shrinking. There are still some big hitters buying but the spending amount is getting smaller. The big gift is shifting to non holiday special occasions.”

 

“I anticipated more website shopping with instore pickup but instead we had more early special orders and late in-store shoppers. We are lucky to now have two bench jewelers to keep up with demand for sizing instore stock as well as designing new pieces and hand fabricating custom orders.”

 

Slow to start, last three days were very busy. People were thrown off by Thanksgiving being so late

Chris Burslem is Group Managing Editor at SmartWork Media.

Advertisement

SPONSORED VIDEO

Wilkerson Testimonials

A Packed Store Like the Day Before Christmas? Wilkerson Makes It Happen

Deb Schulman says once she and her husband, Ron, decided to retire, she could feel “the stress start to leave.” The owners of B. Alsohns Jewelers in Palm Desert, California, the Schulmans had heard about Wilkerson over the years and contacted them when the time was right. Wilkerson provided the personalized service, experience and manpower it took to organize their GOB sale. “We are so impressed with the way Wilkerson performed for us,” says Ron Schulman, “I’d send high accolades to anyone who was interested.”

Promoted Headlines

Headlines

Jewelers Prepare to Close a Strong Holiday Season

Thirty-one percent of jewelers said the 2019 holiday season so far had been a better than expected.

mm

Published

on

WITH JUST TWO days to go until Christmas Day brings down a red and green curtain on the traditional holiday season, independent jewelers appear on track to wrap up a largely successful sales period. The upbeat trends we have seen since Black Friday solidified in the last week. Thirty-one percent of jewelers said the 2019 holiday season so far had been a better than expected and a further six percent said it had been flat-out “terrific.” Thirty-three percent said it had been in line with their forecasts but those expectations had been noticeably bullish — the INSTORE Jewelers Confidence Index surged to a record high reading of 65 in November as many jewelers anticipated a strong December.

There were some jewelers for whom the period delivered a lump of coal with the portion describing their sales as “dismal” inching up to 8 percent in the last week. A further 22 percent classified their store’s performance as disappointing.

Still, that leaves a lot of merry jewelers.

“We have been humbled by the traffic. Lots of work earlier in the year has created an energy with our team and the customers this season,” said Brian McCall, owner of Midwest Jewelers and Estate Buyers in Zionsville, IN.

“Customers in a good mood. Lots of fun. Saw men for first time Saturday,” said Richard Frank, owner of Goldstein’s in Mobile, AL. “The next two days should be very good.”

Diamonds, including styles such as tennis bracelets and pins that haven’t been all that popular recently, continued to feature predominantly in lists of hot sellers, along with custom orders.

“The surprise of the year has been (diamond) pins,” said Jennifer Hornik Johnson, owner of Miller’s Jewelry in Bozeman, MT. “We’ve sold more than five brooches, which have been slow movers for YEARS!”

Credit for the strong season was attributed variously to God, the buoyant economy, the president, Boomers, and savvy year-long marketing plans, supported by loads and loads of hard work.

If there was one repeated refrain, it’s that while this Christmas period stood out for its healthy sales, it was also marked by a changing retail landscape. And you can expect more of that in 2020. In short, there’ll be no chance to rest on laurels.

“This business is a marathon of marketing, digital reinvention, and building goodwill. It is not won or lost in a single season,” noted Debbie Fox, owner of Fox Fine Jewelry in Ventura, CA.

Jennifer Farnes of Revolution Jewelry Works in Colorado Springs, CO, concurred: ”In 2020, ‘adapt or die’ will be the theme of the year. In the era of technology, ignoring the problem hoping it will pass won’t save anyone’s business. Hire a jeweler, advertise, update your website, and embrace custom.”

The fourth 2019 Holiday Season Mini survey was taken on Monday by almost 120 independent jewelers who are part of our Brain Squad readers group.

Continue Reading

Headlines

Holiday Season Shaping Up As Better Than Expected

A pleasant surprise may be on the way.

mm

Published

on

WITH EXACTLY A week to go until Christmas Day, the 2019 holiday season is on track to deliver a cheery surprise to many of North America’s long-struggling independent jewelers, according to an INSTORE Mini Survey.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had a real Christmas season,” said Eve J. Alfille, owner of the Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio in Evanston, IL. “I thought that trend was done and gone. But this year is HOT! Not only for custom, but actual sales, big items, over $3,000, as well as the ones under $1,000.”

Louis Vuitton to Sell Jewelry Made From World’s Second-Largest Diamond
Headlines

Louis Vuitton to Sell Jewelry Made From World’s Second-Largest Diamond

Karma Hits Hard as Bungling Thieves Lock Themselves in Jewelry Store During Robbery (Video)
Headlines

Karma Hits Hard as Bungling Thieves Lock Themselves in Jewelry Store During Robbery (Video)

A Packed Store Like the Day Before Christmas? Wilkerson Makes It Happen
Sponsored Content

A Packed Store Like the Day Before Christmas? Wilkerson Makes It Happen

Thirty-seven percent of the almost 140 store owners and managers who took the survey rated the season so far as “better than expected” or “terrific”, while 36 percent said it was in line, although keep in mind many jewelers came into the key sales period anticipating strong sales. Meanwhile, about one in four respondents said the season had been either “disappointing” or “dismal” to date.

Aflille said she was surprised by the buoyant consumer sentiment, especially given the current “political ferment.” Other jewelers attributed their solid sales performances to the short season, strong local economies, and a willingness among shoppers to splurge.

Advertisement

“Surprising that big tickets with slower traffic has been a driving force behind sales,” said Denise Oros, owner of Linnea Jewelers in La Grange, IL. “Last weekend was SLAM BANG terrific.”

Diamond jewelry along with colored jewelry and even very late custom orders were cited as the key sales drivers with over one-third of the jewelers reporting an average sale in excess of $600.

“People just seem like they are in better and more festive moods this year,” said Marc Majors, owner of Sam L. Majors Jewelry in Midland, TX. “I’m seeing buyers of color stone jewelry again and that’s nice because I’m loaded with it.”

Seasoned hands cautioned that there is still much that could happen in the last week of the season, with a number of variables ranging from the weather to changing shopping habits that could sway final results.

“In my 44 Christmas seasons, I’ve seen it turn both positive and negative. All you can do is be prepared for opportunity when it presents itself. Fingers crossed and bon chance!” said Jon Walp, owner of Long Jewelers in Virginia Beach, VA.

Others were more openly upbeat that a happy ending awaits this year’s Christmas tale.

Advertisement

“It’s funny but if you want a good laugh stop by Christmas Eve. We are always packed, and yes all men,” said Tommy Thobe, owner of The Village Gem in Perry Hall, MD.

The third 2019 Holiday Season Mini survey was taken on Monday and Tuesday by 138 independent jewelers who are part of our Brain Squad readers group.

Continue Reading

Headlines

Sales Remain Strong, But Jewelers Moderate Expectations a Bit for 2019 Holiday Season

45% of jewelers in our survey say the season is in line with their projections.

mm

Published

on

JEWELERS TEMPERED THEIR expectations for the 2019 holiday season as we entered the second week of December with about one in four store owners telling an INSTORE Mini Survey they had fallen behind target. That compared to just 14 percent who were similarly downbeat following a robust Black Friday opening.

Overall, sales were still strong though. Seven percent of jewelers said they were having a “terrific” season so far, 24 percent said it was better than expected and 45 percent said it was in line with their projections.

“Traffic is up but I was expecting higher traffic as this is our fourth Christmas and have really increased sales over the last year,” said Christopher Sarich, the owner of Noah Gabriel & Co. Jewelers in Wexford, PA.

Tickets continued to be strong with more than a third of jewelers saying their average sale was over $600, while a similar portion of store owners said their store traffic was up over last year (see charts below).

Diamond sales of all kinds — bridal, studs, design, fashion and lab-grown — continued to do well with almost half of the jewelers in our survey citing diamond jewelry as their best-selling item. Custom was also doing well.

“Custom! Everything from scratch to customized assembly,” said Jennifer Farnes, owner of Revolution Jewelry Works in Colorado Springs, CO.

Given the overall health of the economy and consumers’ appetite for jewelry, this could also be a good season to move aged inventory, suggested Jill Hornik, owner of Jae’s Jewelers in Coral Gables, FL.

“This is the perfect time for an inventory reduction sale to get rid of old stock. We put over 200 items over 5 years old into our case normally designated for a silver designer, and have made 31 times the revenue we normally would within that same case space.”

The second 2019 Holiday Season Mini survey was taken on Monday by 112 independent jewelers who are part of our Brain Squad readers group. We will send out more surveys over the course of the holiday season. Look out for the results each Tuesday.

Continue Reading

Most Popular