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The Big Survey 2018:
The Basics

See the numbers that make up the world of American jewelers.

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The average jeweler in America is still a one-store downtown operation. The largest percentage are in small cities and country towns, but the markets with the highest percentage of thriving stores (relative to average or underperforming stores) are large cities, medium-sized cities and suburban areas.

3. How would you describe the market where your store is located?

These graphs indicate the distribution of thrivers, strugglers and average performers in each market type. As the blue columns show, thrivers tend to operate in bigger markets and have smaller representation in rural areas.

 

4. How many stores do you own?

1   89%
2   2%
3-5   13%
6 or more   1%

 

5. Is your (main) store located …

On a downtown street
36%
In a strip mall
26%
In its own free-standing building
34%
In a lifestyle center
7%
In a mall
13%
In an office building/business park
12%
On the Internet
1%
Home studio
1%
Other
1%

COMMENT: Given the many reports about the “retail apocalypse” decimating America’s malls, it wasn’t a surprise that struggling jewelers were over-represented in this category. 7.5% percent of the strugglers were in malls compared to 3% for the thrivers.

 

6. Check the paid services offered by your store

COMMENT: Onsite jewelry repairs was one of the main points of distinction between thrivers and strugglers: 85% of the stores who reported doing well in recent years offer such services compared to only 74% for those that said times were difficult. Clearly repairs are a lucrative way an independent jeweler can stand out in a competitive marketplace.

 

7. Which description of your business do you most closely identify with?

Most readers who took our survey identify as “full-service jewelers” (82 percent, up from 79 percent a year ago), followed by “custom-design stores” and “jewelry retailers.”

COMMENT: More of the strugglers identified as “pure retailers” (meaning they don’t offer repair or other services) as opposed to full-service jewelers. Interestingly, there was little difference in performance in those who identified themselves as custom design jewelers.

 

8. How long has your business been in operation?

1-5 years
5%
6-10 years
5%
11-20 years
13%
21-30 years
16%
31-40 years
21%
41-50 years
13%
51-100 years
22%
100-150 years
14%
More than 150 years
1%

Comment: Many of the independent jewelers in our survey have been in business a long time: 40% first opened their doors more than 40 years ago and 61% at least three decades ago. On the surface, it would make sense that the longer a store had been in business, the less chance the last two years had been either the worst or best. Yet close to half the stores (or 44%) that said either 2016 or 2017 had been the worst in their history first opened for business at least four decades ago (think Carter-era inflation, 80s recession, 9/11) and several went back more than 100 years. The conclusion: Longevity is not always an advantage unless you learn to change with the times.

 

9. How big is your (main) store?


Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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