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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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FedEx Worker Pawned $36,000 of Jewelry Instead of Delivering It, Police Say

He allegedly received $6,000 for the merchandise.

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A Cincinnati man who worked for FedEx is accused of stealing jewelry rather than delivering it.

Terry Hagood was charged with two counts of theft and has pleaded not guilty to both, WKRC-TV reports.

The jewelry in question, worth $36,000 in two shipments, was bound for Quality Gold, police say.

Instead of delivering it, Hagwood allegedly took the jewelry to Queen City Pawn.

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Authorities say he received $6,000 for the merchandise. The crimes are alleged to have taken place in September.

Bond for Hagwood was set at $2,000. He was being held in Hamilton County, OH.

According to WXIX-TV, it was a FedEx corporate security specialist who filed a police report accusing Hagwood of theft.

Read more at the WKRC-TV

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Jeweler Report Grimmer Holiday Mood

Many are lowering their sales expectations, INSTORE found in its second 2018 Holiday Season Mini Survey.

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THE MOOD OF JEWELERS turned decidedly grimmer in the second week of December, with store owners and managers sharply lowering their expectations for the 2018 holiday season. More than one in three, or 34 percent, of respondents to our second holiday mini survey described the season so far as “disappointing” or “dismal,” up from just 20 percent who were that negative in our first survey taken on Dec. 6.

The proportion of jewelers doing “better than expected” or having a “terrific” season also shrank, from 27 percent to 21 percent. The rest said sales had so far been in line with expectations.

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“I think Trump’s tariffs causing the stock market to crash, as well as the threat of recession, is hurting us. Internet sales are also becoming more of a factor,” said Michael Rumanoff of Rumanoff’s Fine Jewelry and Design, Hamden, CT.

Yet, many jewelers remain hopeful for a strong finish to the season, similar to what happened last year, with some noting that their early sales had been dominated by self-purchasers as opposed to bigger-spending gift-buyers.

“I think it’s going to be a late buying year. We’ve had some nice sales but there’s no sense of urgency yet,” said Marc Majors, owner of Sam L. Majors, a fifth-generation jeweler in Midland, TX.

HOW DO YOU RATE YOUR HOLIDAY SEASON SO FAR?

Meanwhile, some jewelers are already plotting adjustments to their strategy in 2019, including changes to their marketing and inventory.

“Already wish I’d done a little different marketing,” said Julee Johnson, owner of Julee’s Jewelry in Mankato, MN. “But I know what to change in the coming year. Facebook can be good, but don’t rely only on it. We use it along with radio and direct mail, but our tracking shows it’s not the only answer.”

Mark Snyder, owner of Snyder Jewelers in Weymouth, MA, said his holiday season had been hectic and he was expecting to top his historical numbers. But he noted his customers’ focus was clearly on custom-designed jewelry. “We will definitely consider carrying less inventory next year. People simply want custom (at least 15-20 days out). It’s not like our inventory mix is wrong. People come through the door with a custom design in mind and their own gemstones. They aren’t looking and NOT seeing what they want, because they aren’t looking at all.”

HOW IS CUSTOMER TRAFFIC COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?

In addition to the strong custom design trend, which was reported across the country, the other pattern being noted was rising average tickets but falling traffic. Almost half, or 46 percent, of survey respondents reported fewer customers were coming in their doors compared with the 2017 season, while 35 percent said their average ticket was up and a further 46 percent said it had held steady.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR AVERAGE SALE SO FAR THIS HOLIDAY PERIOD?

Diamond studs, pendants, engagement rings, and other high-end items led the way.

“Diamond anything,” was how Kim Hatchell, manager of Galloway & Moseley in Sumter, SC, described her best sellers.

HOW IS YOUR AVERAGE TICKET COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?

INSTORE’s 2018 Holiday Season Mini Survey No. 2 was sent to the Brain Squad on Monday and answered by more than 120 jewelers across North America. We will send a third installment after the coming weekend. If you’d like to become a member of the Brain Squad, and get access to all the respondent data, please sign up HERE.

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These Jewelry Brands Have the Best Resale Value, According to The RealReal

Newly release data ‘speaks to the longevity of top designers.’

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The RealReal, an online luxury consignment company, has released a list of designer brands with the best resale value.

In the jewelry category, Van Cleef & Arpels comes out on top.

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“The inimitable Van Cleef, with its iconic Alhambra pieces, is #1 for the second year in a row with a 74% resale value and 5% uptick YoY,” the company states.

Cartier also made a strong showing.

“Cartier’s Juste un Clou bracelet continues to be the embodiment of French elegance, selling for 74 percent of its original price,” according to The RealReal.

Anita Ko was third on the list, with a resale value of 69 percent.

In the watches category, Rolex, Patek Philippe and Panerai were all highly ranked for resale value.

“Our unique data speaks to the longevity of top designers, and is a touchstone for shifts in consumer behavior,” said Rati Levesque, the company’s chief merchant. “Gifting heritage and meticulously crafted luxury goods is what extending the life cycle of luxury is all about and ultimately lets everyone participate in the circular economy.”

Check out The RealReal’s Holiday Resale Report here.

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