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Nearly Three-Quarters of Jewelry Retailers Surveyed Expect Changes to Last

20% see their business as transformed forever.

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Graph on roles e-commerce played in COVID-19 crisis

WE ASKED MEMBERS of INSTORE’s Brain Squad, “To what extent do you expect the COVID-19 crisis to result in permanent changes to your business?” Although it may be too soon to tell what the rest of 2020 will be like, let alone the future of jewelry retail, 74 percent of 219 retail jewelers surveyed expect some changes they’ve made in their business to be long lasting.

Of that group, 20 percent believe their business will be transformed a great deal “forever,” including Daniel Spirer of Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers in Cambridge, MA. “It is highly unlikely I will be able to keep my retail shop open. I will probably be forced to close it, find an inexpensive workshop and work by appointment only.”

Jill Keith of Enchanted Jewelry in Danielson, CT, who has been unable to transact any business during the shutdown, also suspects changes may be sweeping and permanent. “It’s the unknown timeline that adds to the challenge of hiring and training before revenue rolls in, like a whole new start-up venture,” she says. But she says she’s up to the challenge. “The pandemic will make cream rise to the top. I have every intention of continuing to grow and thrive.”

Among the 54 percent who expect their business to change somewhat, Robert Kaylor of R Grey Jewelry Gallery in Boise, ID, expects to stick with a few changes. “Our staff will be smaller and we will have to evaluate what the new retail atmosphere looks like.” Once reopened, he’ll be open five days a week, rather than six. “After 34 years with our business, we are realizing we have to start living!” he says.

John Carom responded “somewhat,” with a caveat: “The somewhat is very uncertain I believe,” he says. “It’ll depend on the virus’ life span and the public’s reaction to all the changes. Maybe they’ll travel less and spend more on jewelry. Or maybe some will think about necessities rather than non-essentials.” Changes he has implemented for now at least include Zoom communication with staff, more structured daily mini-meetings, curbside pickup and home delivery for customers, and a more human approach to social media.

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Janne Etz, who responded “not at all: we’ll be returning to our normal way of doing things,” referenced the fact that e-commerce has been 45 percent of her business for quite a while. “I’m looking forward to reopening my store, because I miss my customers! But I’m also happy that I’m implementing new online platforms. I figure the more I’m “seen”, the better! It won’t change how I do business, but it will hopefully just increase revenue!”

Most jewelers who expect some changes to last, see those changes in a positive light.

Nathan George of Joshua’s Fine Jewelry in Russellville, AR, says tele-design has been a big part of the business, but has become even more popular since the pandemic began. “Also, payments for custom jobs and in-house accounts have been something we have decided to do remotely.”

Allison Leitzel-Williams, Leitzel’s Jewelry, Myerstown, PA, has been amazed what can be accomplished via text or chat. “I love the concept of operating as a concierge/private jeweler and think this practice will hone those skills,” she says.

Christopher Sarich, Noah Gabriel & Co. Jewelers, Wexford, PA, plans to continue curbside pickup and home delivery. “Clients have appreciated the service,” he says. “Especially those with children. They don’t have to unpack their children for a simple pickup.”

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Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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