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David Brown

So What Does a $3M Jewelry Store Look Like?

There’s a key factor that sets it apart.

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With growth in the number of stores whose data is being collected, we have updated our reporting system to further differentiate between the levels of store information we have. Our previous breakdown into stores over and under $1 million has now been further split to reflect stores that are doing in excess of $3 million in sales per year.

With growth in the number of stores whose data is being collected, we have updated our reporting system to further differentiate between the levels of store information we have. Our previous breakdown into stores over and under $1 million has now been further split to reflect stores that are doing in excess of $3 million in sales per year. With over 100 stores now fitting into this category, we have our first in-depth breakdown of the performance of large stores on their own, and how their results compare to smaller stores.

First, let’s look at the results for February. Same-store rolling 12-month data shows a decline insales achieved to $1.616 million from $1.629 million. However, this difference can be partially attributable to a change in the weighting of the data being reported thanks to the new category.

Average sale for the month of February remained similar at $329 on an average margin of 46 percent with unit sales down from 328 to 279 for the month (again allowing for an adjustment in data gathering). These numbers will no doubt continue to show a variation over the next 12 months until the new data-gathering works its way through.

Now that we have an additional split of stores doing in excess of $3 million it is interesting to compare the sales makeup of each type of store.

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Looking at the percentage contribution of each department across the categories, it’s interesting to see how larger stores make up their sales mix. Contrary to expectation, it’s not all coming from diamond rings, with larger stores showing the lowest sales percentage contribution from diamond rings at just 7 percent compared with smaller stores at 10.9 percent. Obviously this converts to a higher dollar value but is not the main driver of the extras sales.

Diamonds overall contribute just over 52 percent of $3 million store sales compared to 53.7 percent and 57.3 percent for under $1 million and over $1 million, respectively. In fact, the largest stores also receive a lower percentage of their sales from colored stone, gold and silver departments than the small and medium store performance.

It’s in the area of watches that the large stores make up the difference. Based on a sales percentage of over 16 percent, the average $3 million-plus store is doing a minimum of just under $500,000 per year in watch sales – a relatively significant sum. In fact, these larger stores can be doing as much from watch sales as a smaller store is achieving from all categories put together. Margins may be lower in this department, and the return rate of warranties will be higher than jewelry, but there is still obviously money being made in this area despite the arrival of cell phones, Fitbits and other time-measuring devices that will supposedly spell the end for the watch industry.

So are watches a big part of your business? Do you neglect them in favor of other areas that you feel warrant more attention?

We’ve highlighted the difference in watch sales between larger and smaller stores before, but never has it been more apparent than in the data we have here. The further split of the data shows that the larger the store, the more significant it seems watch sales become. Compare nearly $500,000 of sales versus $30,000 being achieved by the average $1 million store and you’ve accounted for almost 25 percent of the sales difference between the two types of entities.

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It certainly provides food for thought.

David Brown is president of the Edge Retail Academy, a force in jewelry industry business consulting, sell-through data and vendor solutions. David and his team are dedicated to providing business owners with information and strategies to improve sales and profits. Reach him at david@edgeretailacademy.com

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David Brown

Here’s How to Make Debt Work for You, Not Against You

These are the three main factors to consider when taking on debt.

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DEBT IS OFTEN a part of business that can’t be avoided. When used wisely, it can be a catalyst for business growth. When used unwisely, it can be the undoing of a business. How you use it can make or break your store’s performance, yet many business owners fail to understand debt fully and the impact, both positive and negative, that it might have.

There are a number of factors you should consider when deciding to leverage your business. Here are five important things to consider.

Invest in Assets That Increase or Provide Positive Cash Flow

Debt comes at a cost, and that cost needs to be offset by a source of income. If you invest your loans in assets that can either increase in value or provide income in excess of the servicing costs, then you are ensuring your debt is a positive generator for your business.

Separate Business from Personal

Using business debt for private purposes can lead to long-term cash flow issues. This is a continuation from point one. If you load the business with debt to fund a holiday home, then you need to ensure other parts of the business are strong enough to meet the extra cost, as the asset itself will not be providing cash flow (unless you choose to rent it out).

Don’t Overextend

Deciding to take on debt is the first question, deciding how much to take on is just as crucial. Assess the risks of your investment losing money, the equipment you buy dropping in value, or that the income from your investment won’t create enough cash flow to meet the debt obligations. Your income returns can be uncertain; your debt obligations are often set in concrete.

Structure Correctly

How you set up your debt can affect the long-term cost, not only in terms of what you may have to pay back, but whether you can enjoy a tax benefit from the IRS. It’s important to get good advice before organizing your loan.

Consider the Security Offered

Banks will always seek as much security as they can. In a perfect banking world, they will want everything you own to underwrite the loan, including your firstborn! You need to be comfortable with what you will give and how forfeiting security will affect future decisions, including getting additional funding later.

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David Brown

Maybe You Don’t Need to Sell More Jewelry After All

How to balance the competing goals of raising sales volume and increasing your margin.

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AS DECEMBER APPROACHED, most jewelers were looking for some positive momentum in the lead-up.

Our November store data showed a slight increase in the right direction, with store comparative sales for the 12 months ending November 2019 showing an increase of 1.2% versus the same period a year prior. This might not be a figure that sets the world on fire, but given some of the recent stutters in results during 2019, it served as a promise of what might be to come.

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Sales of $1.921 million were up $22,000 from 2019’s $1.899 million, and over $90,000 up from the 2017 figure of $1.829 million. Sales units of 5,957 were down 7% on 2018’s 6,376 items sold for the rolling 12-month period, with average retail price per item increasing 8% to $322 from $298. Markup held its own at 85%, resulting in the average store seeing gross profit rise 1.4% from $872,000 to $884,000.

As we often discuss, growing your profitability can be something of a juggling act between maximizing your margins and increasing the volume of sales you make. Improving your bottom line can seem like an “and/or” argument – if I increase my price will my sales volume go down or stay the same? If I lower my price will the sales volume go up or will it make no difference? At the extremes the answer is usually yes – a 50% increase in price is almost certain to reduce the number of sales you make. Likewise cutting your prices by 50% should increase quantities sold. The question however is will it be enough to make a difference? In many of these scenarios the increase in the positive aspect may not be enough to counter what you have lost at the other end.

Let’s look at the scenario of choosing between an increase of 1% in prices versus a 1% increase in volume. It’s important to understand they don’t both have the same impact on profitability as we’ll demonstrate with the scenario below.

Jane runs a profitable jewelry store with the following numbers:

Fixed costs per annum: $250,000 (rent, salaries etc.)
Variable costs: $65 per unit (freight, commissions, goods purchased, etc.)
Sales: $1 million
Volume = 10,000 units

The scenario above would result in a profit of $100,000.

Raising Volume by 1%

Now let’s say she increases the volume by 1%. The fixed costs would remain constant, but her total variable costs would go up to $656,500 due to the extra expense of selling the additional items.

Sales would be $1.01 million, which is the same as raising the price by 1% and holding the volume steady. By raising the volume by 1%, Jane would increase her profits by $3,500 or a 3.5% increase in profit.

Raising Price by 1%

What would happen if she raised the price by 1% instead while maintaining the current sales volume?

Sales would still be $1.01 million, an increase of $10,000. At this level the variable costs would remain constant ($650,000) because we just raised the price per unit and didn’t have to buy or sell more items.

Fixed costs would also remain the same. This would result in an increase in profit of $10,000 – a 10% increase in profit, a figure that is $6,500 better than just increasing sales volume by 1%.

So, if you’re weighing up a strategy to build your business profitability, it’s important to know that not all methods work the same. Given this information, it may be better to concentrate on a plan that increases margins while maintaining sales volume rather than looking to build volumes at the expense of margin.

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David Brown

How the Power of Compounding Returns Can Make You Very Wealthy

Start early and continue to reinvest.

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ALBERT EINSTEIN CALLED it the 8th Wonder of the World — and it’s been a source of wealth building for many of the world’s richest people. And yet, the power of compounding interest is still one of the most misunderstood concepts in business and investment.

The power of compounding applies to business ownership just as surely as it does to investment decisions. Investors like Warren Buffett have built their fortune on businesses that offer a strong return on investment that can then be reinvested back into those businesses, or other businesses, that can continue to deliver similar returns. Compounding has allowed him to build an initial capital of less than $1 million back in the 1950s into a fortune of over $70 billion today.

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So how does it work? Well, I’m sure you’re aware of the leverage that can be achieved by reinvesting your returns to create still larger returns. What many people underestimate, however, is the power of how compounding can build up returns very quickly.

The graph above shows the impact of $1,000 invested in year one and earning a rate of 8 percent per annum — not an unrealistic return, and certainly less than most businesses would be expected to return given the risk. Over the first 30 years, the impact is gradual, as the investment slowly grows to a level of $10,062, or ten times the initial investment.

At this stage, a tipping point is reached. Over the next 30 years, it again grows ten times to reach $101,250 by year 60. And again, the next 30 years shows a growth of ten times, but now the investment grows in excess of $1 million by year 90 — all from an initial investment of $1,000. In just the next ten years, from year 90 to year 100, the investment doubles in size, adding the equivalent in that ten-year period to what was achieved in the first 90 years combined!

Now 100 years is more than the lifetime of most people, but the point is still well illustrated, and this example does not take into account the addition of extra capital. If the investor had added another $1,000 every year for 100 years, the total sum reached by year 100 would reach just over $29 million!

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This example shows the power of compounding, the benefit of continuing to invest more money each year which then compounds and, most importantly in my opinion, the power of starting early. This point is best illustrated by comparing someone who starts investing an annual amount from age 20 and stops at age 28 versus someone who doesn’t start until 28 and continues to invest that same amount annually until they are 55. If both people earned the same rate of annual return, who would have the most money at 55? Believe it or not, the person who invests from age 20 and stops at age 28 is still able to achieve a higher level of wealth than the person who starts later but invests for longer, even though the later person paid more money in. The power of compounding can make up for the first person no longer investing from age 28 onwards.

Both your business investment and personal investments need to consider the power of compounding when you make your decisions. You work hard for your money — there’s no reason your money can’t be working hard for you.

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