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Who's Thriving in 2018?

Our mass data dig finds what’s separating the best from the rest.

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MUCH OF THIS YEAR’S Big Survey reflects a simple question: Are you thriving or struggling in the current economy? Over the last few years, we’ve noticed in our contacts with readers a pattern that is being seen elsewhere in society: Two Americas, one doing well, the other doing it tough. For some jewelers, the economy is booming; there is lively demand from both a new generation of jewelry buyers and recently affluent customers for what they stock and what they make. Meanwhile, new online technology is allowing them to expand their reach. For another group, everything is the opposite. The local economy is stagnant, consumers are aging and the young don’t seem interested in jewelry. Technological change is increasing competition, healthcare costs and rent are squeezing profitability, and what once worked, no longer seems to. Our goal with this year’s survey was to first identify the Thrivers (those who said they were enjoying their best year ever) and the Strugglers (those who said business had never been so bad) and compare both their experiences and also how they operate. The results were fascinating, sometimes predictable but ultimately very instructive. Please enjoy.

1. A land of contrasting fortunes

The Big Survey 2018: Who’s Thriving in 2018?

COMMENT: A total of 728 jewelers answered this year’s Big Survey with contributions from every state except Delaware, and D.C. To map this divided state of affairs, we designated states as Thriving, Struggling or Unchanged based on how they responded to our key question. In blue California, for example, 26 jewelers said they’d recently enjoyed their best year ever, while 5 said it had been their worst and 9 said not much had changed. Meanwhile, in red New Jersey, 6 jewelers said they were going through their worst-ever period, 4 said it was the best and 4 said it was little changed. In the great white of Canada, things were decidedly gray with 8 of 17 jewelers saying they were basically muddling along. The most thriving state in the land was Illinois, where 19 jewelers said times were great compared to just one who was struggling.

 

2. Looking at the last two years, would you rate either of them as the “best” or “worst” ever in terms of your store’s financial performance?

The Big Survey 2018: Who’s Thriving in 2018?

NOTE: Given that a store that had only been in business a couple of years would likely report their most recent year as their best, we excluded from our Best/Worst comparisons jewelers that joined the trade after 2015. There were only 10 such stores.

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10 Things That Set Strugglers Apart

1. They operate in smaller markets (page 38)
2. They are more likely to be pure retailers who offer no shop services (page 38)
3. Their customer base is mostly working
class (page 44)
4. They’ve hitched their wagons to Baby
Boomers (page 45)
5. They buy lots of silver off the street (page 45)
6. They earn less (page 50)
7. They pay their staff hourly (page 60)
8. It’s been 5 years since their last remodel (page 64)
9. Their time is consumed with admin (page 60)
10. They work long hours (page 54)

10 Things That Set Thrivers Apart

1. They offer on-site repairs (page 38)
2. They target affluent customers (page 44)
3. Millennials excite them (page 45)
4. They buy at trade shows (page 46)
5. They buy off the street (page 46)
6. They reorder quickly (page 48)
7. They rate their mental attributes highly
(page 55)
8. They motivate staff with financial
incentives (page 60)
9. They are likely to focus on strategy and customer relations (page 60)
10. They work long hours (page 54)

 

This year’s Big Survey was conducted between July and August via an online service, SurveyMonkey. With 728 readers responding, it represents one of the biggest-ever analyses of the lives and business habits of American jewelers. Thanks to all who took the time to fill in the survey. If you would like to participate in more INSTORE surveys, sign up for the Brain Squad at instoremag.com/brain-squad.

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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Wilkerson Testimonials | Sollberger’s

Going Out of Business Is an Emotional Journey. Wilkerson Is There to Make It Easier.

Jaki Cowan, the owner of Sollberger’s in Ridgeland, MS, decided the time was right to close up shop. The experience, she says, was like going into the great unknown. There were so many questions about the way to handle the store’s going-out-of-business sale. Luckily for Cowan, Wilkerson made the transition easier and managed everything, from marketing to markdowns.

“They think of everything that you don’t have the time to think of,” she says of the Wilkerson team that was assigned to manage the sale. And it was a total success, with financial goals met by Christmas with another sale month left to go.

Wilkerson even had a plan to manage things while Covid-19 restrictions were still in place. This included limiting the number of shoppers, masking and taking temperatures upon entrance. “We did everything we could to make the staff and public feel as safe as possible.”

Does she recommend Wilkerson to other retailers thinking of retiring, liquidating or selling excess merchandise? Absolutely. “If you are considering going out of business, it’s obviously an emotional journey. But truly rest assured that you’re in good hands with Wilkerson.”

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