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Holiday Season Mini Survey

Late Rush of Shoppers Brings Cheer to Jewelers

Almost four in 10 beat last year’s historically strong numbers, INSTORE 2023 Holiday Season Survey finds.

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A SEASON THAT that started with much uncertainty and was slow to gather momentum ultimately delivered a nice dose of Christmas cheer for most independent jewelers, according to our final 2023 Holiday Season Mini Survey.

Almost half of the jewelers in our Brain Squad readers panel reported better-than-expected or “terrific” sales, while only 24% reported being disappointed. Even more surprisingly, almost four in 10 said they beat last year’s historically strong numbers.

“Wasn’t sure how the season was going to go with everything going on all over the world. December got off to a slow start but that changed about mid-month. Huge finish and lots of custom lined up for 2024,” said Susan Kauffman, owner of Black Dog Jewelers in Lewisburg, PA.

Late Rush of Shoppers Brings Cheer to Jewelers

Late Rush of Shoppers Brings Cheer to Jewelers

While last-minute spikes in sales seem to have become the norm in recent years, the 2023 holiday season was a strange and challenging one, according to several of the jewelers in our survey. Customers were hesitant to spend, in-store traffic slumped (57% of the jewelers reported that footfall was down on-year) but average ticket was up significantly, sales were dominated by the “bookends” – the low end ($250-$500) and the high end (above $1,500), and ongoing staff shortages caused problems for many store owners trying to provide a decent level of service.

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Late Rush of Shoppers Brings Cheer to Jewelers

Late Rush of Shoppers Brings Cheer to Jewelers

The top sellers were also rather non-traditional. Just on a third of the jewelers in our survey listed lab-grown diamonds as their best-sellers. “The big sales never came, no mass buying of diamond studs, or larger lab grown studs. Best sellers in both were half to 2-carat. Natural bridal had little traction, almost everything engagement ring was lab — 2 to 4 carats,” noted
Tom Ozment of Fincher & Ozment Jewelers in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Other strong performing categories included tennis bracelets, custom and — repairs. “Why does everyone seen to decide they need their jewelry repaired the last two weeks before Christmas?” James Sickinger of Sickinger’s Jewelry in Lowell, IN, wanted to know.

Late Rush of Shoppers Brings Cheer to Jewelers

With another holiday season in the bag, many of the jewelers were turning their attention to 2024, which promises to be another tricky year, not that too many expressed overwhelming concern.

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“Locally, we had a tough economic year. That being said, I have noticed that when times are tough, love prevails at year’s end. We finished well because people needed to reward their loved ones for pinching pennies all year long. The economists always miss this,” said Bill Longnecker of Longnecker Jewelry in McCook, NE.

We can only agree. Wishing all our readers the best in business in 2024. Happy new year! – The INSTORE team

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Moving Up — Not Out — with Wilkerson

Trish Parks has always wanted to be in the jewelry business and that passion has fueled her success. The original Corinth Jewelers opened in the Mississippi town of the same name in 2007. This year, Parks moved her business from its original strip mall location to a 10,000-square foot standalone store. To make room for fresh, new merchandise, she asked Wilkerson to organize a moving sale. “What I remember most about the sale is the outpouring excitement and appreciation from our customers,” says Parks. Would she recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers? “I would recommend Wilkerson because they came in, did what they were supposed to and made us all comfortable. And we met our goals.”

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