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Optimism Rules As Jewelers Enter Holiday Season

The overriding sentiment is one of optimism.

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“AS EXPECTED” was how most of the jewelers in our first 2018 Holiday Season Mini Survey summed up the 10 days since Black Friday.

Given that most of those jewelers entered the season with high hopes it suggests the overriding sentiment remains one of optimism even if the sales action has yet to kick into a high gear.

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“The mood has been positive and happy,” said Tonia Ulsh, manager of Mountz Jewelers in Camp Hill, PA, adding that while traffic at her store is down from last year, her average ticket at over $500 is up.

>Overall, 21 percent of the more than 120 jewelers who took the survey said the first two weeks of the holiday season had been “better than expected” while 6 percent said it had been “terrific.” Fifteen percent categorized it as disappointing and 5 percent said it had been flat out “dismal.”

“I thought that a longer holiday season would amount to a better period of time for selling, but since Thanksgiving was early this year I think it is making people blow off shopping for the holidays till later,” said Andrea Riso, owner of Talisman Collection in El Dorado Hills, CA. “(But) we’re down so far I’m starting to panic.”

Other jewelers were more sanguine, noting that one of the clearest trends of the last few years has been shoppers coming in later and later to do their jewelry buying.

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“Around here Christmas buying used to start the day after Thanksgiving. Now the serious buying does not start until Dec. 20th,” said Ed Menk, owner of E. L. Menk Jewelers in Brainerd, MN. “The reason? Possibly credit cards allowing the men to hide their purchases from the ladies. Also, there are so many things to attract the consumer such as the never-ending electronics, high priced phones, etc.”

In Muscle Shoals, AL, Joan Charlene Little, of Genesis Jewelry, concurred, predicting the opening trends of the season pointed to a stressful last few days. “Customers are shopping. Snapping photos on their cell phones. The problem is they are going to push it to the last week when everyone will be shopping.”

When customers are reaching for their wallets, it is often for big-ticket items. Almost one in three of the responding jewelers listed diamonds when we asked what had been their best seller so far. Custom followed a close second.

“Average tickets are going up as is traffic. Pandora and Alex & Ani, in particular, are  slowing,” said Steve Floyd, owner of Floyd & Green, in Aiken, SC. “I love having more time to spend with my big spenders!”

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