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Jewelry Retail Is Among the Whitest Sectors in the US Economy

Big Survey finds 92% of owners and managers are white.

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Jewelry Retail Is Among the Whitest Sectors in the US Economy

THE INDEPENDENT JEWELRY retail segment is among the most racially homogenous in the U.S., with more than 92 percent of participants classifying themselves as white, according to the 2021 INSTORE Big Survey. Three percent of the respondents identified as Hispanic, 3 percent as multi-racial and 2 percent Asian. None of the almost 400 jewelry store owners or managers who answered this particular question is African American.

By comparison, whites account for about 78 percent of the overall American workforce and according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, such a racial makeup means jewelry retail is one of the whitest sectors in America, lagging only veterinarians, ranchers, pilots, millwrights, steel workers, doctor’s office staff and a couple of other small job categories in its lack of diversity. It’s even whiter than the C-suite of big corporate America (90.6% white)!

The family-run nature and the way ownership of jewelry stores – and the associated skills — are often handed from generation to generation no doubt explains some of this racial homogeneity. Although it is also arguable that would be healthy if the segment were to evolve to more fully represent the country’s cultural richness and include more influences and personalities from outside the dominant racial group.

The 2021 Big Survey was carried out between August and September, attracting almost 700 anonymous responses from owners of independent jewelry stores across the United States and Canada. The full results are available online here and in the November issue of INSTORE.

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Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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