National Jeweler Network

Retail Surveys

Bad weather brings mixed results for Valentine’s Day

By Hannah Connorton and Brecken Branstrator

February 18, 2014

New York--For some jewelers, the relentless snow and frigid temperatures that have plagued most of the country this winter weren’t enough to ruin Valentine’s Day.

One Ohio jeweler says he had the best Feb. 14 in the history of his store while another in Arkansas says customers came out, despite the ice that blanketed the South leading up to Feb. 14.

Other retailers, however, described their holiday as just average, with inclement weather keeping shoppers at home.

National Jeweler publishes holiday sales roundups during the months of November and December and following key holidays during the year, including Valentine’s Day. The roundups consist of interviews with independent retailers from five regions: the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, South Central and West.

NORTHEAST
David Rotenberg of David Craig Jewelers in Langhorne, Pa., says traffic generally wasn’t where it usually is on Valentine’s Day due to the bad weather that hit much of the Northeast last week.

Still, sales were about flat year-over-year for the store.

While the store sold fewer sterling silver pieces and lower-priced items, they did better with engagement rings and big-ticket items for the holiday.

“Fortunately, my customers have changed over the years,” he says. “I used to be doing sales in the $300 to $500 range at this time of year, and now I’m selling items in multiple thousands, and we’re selling multiple items in that range,” he says, adding that sales for February are also up compared with the prior-year period.

SOUTHEAST
Jim Rosenheim of Tiny Jewel Box in Washington, D.C. says that the bad weather has hit the jeweler hard so far in 2014.

The snow that came down the days before Valentine’s Day closed a lot of area stores, and reduced traffic and sales for the store in the days leading up to the holiday.

“Thursday (Feb. 13) wasn’t the day we normally would’ve had in foot traffic or total amount,” Rosenheim says.

The company put together a plan so that sales wouldn’t be hit quite as hard by the weather. The jeweler put up five employees in a nearby hotel to help keep the store open on Thursday. Tiny Jewel Box also sent out an email blast to its clients offering a 10 percent discount on gift certificates ordered that day.

The Thursday before the holiday wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, says Rosenheim, and was followed by a better Valentine’s Day, with the store seeing a lot of male customers coming in for last-minute purchases. Still, sales and traffic were still down slightly year-over-year.

The weather woes have affected the store for most of the year, he says, with January sales impacted by the extreme cold.

But the jeweler still feels positive about the rest of 2014. “We feel sure that when the weather finally abates, we’ll have a pretty good year,” he says. “We’re coming off the best year in our 84-year history and we’re seeing a lot of growth.”

Further south, in Anderson, S.C., Phil Silverstein of Phil Jewelers says that despite being closed for two-and-a-half days before Valentine’s Day, the store was able to make up for it.

Silverstein reports that sales and traffic on Friday were up compared with last year, and that he saw strong sales continue through the weekend for late sales and celebrations.

Rather than selling a lot of engagement rings, strong performers were “right-hand rings,” according to Silverstein, including cocktail rings and rings with colored diamonds, as well as sterling silver jewelry.

Sales in 2014 have generally been strong, with popular price points falling within the $500 to $1,000 price range for the jeweler.

 “The weather hasn’t been too bad, and it seems like things are getting better with the economy, so people are still buying down here, for the most part,” he says.

MIDWEST
“Valentine’s Day for us was the best Valentine’s Day we ever had,” says Jeffrey Mann, owner of Jeffrey Mann Fine Jewelers in Toledo, Ohio.

“Typically we are not a Valentine’s Day-oriented store because my price points are too high. I normally think of it as being a $100 to $200 gift holiday and, although we carry those things, that’s not what we’re known for. But the Friday before Valentine’s Day hit and we were busier than we were during some of our Christmas shopping days,” he says.

Mann says the holiday was busy because of bad weather in Toledo before Christmas that kept shoppers at home. Valentine’s Day gave them another reason to come out and spend money.

“I think there’s pent-up demand both from holidays and weather. People have been going to the grocery store and then going back home to hunker down for another storm. I think people want a reason to spend and we need to give it to them, and Valentine’s Day was that for me,” Mann says.

Valentine’s Day sales at the store included a $10,000 ring, not engagement, which one older man gave to his valentine. Forevermark and Lagos, as well as some watches, also were popular.

Valentine’s Day isn’t traditionally a busy day at Longnecker Jewelry in McCook, Neb., and owner Bill Longnecker says this year the holiday was “average.” Very cold weather may have deterred some customers from coming to the store.

“I think (the weather) had to do with us not having a better holiday. People here aren’t scared of driving in the snow, but it didn’t help in getting them outside,” he says. “It’s was brutally cold in January into February and it slowed down pre-Valentine’s day shopping traffic.”

Longnecker says the Sarah’s Hope Jewelry line was a best-seller for the holiday, as well as the “floating diamond” jewelry that features suspended diamonds that vibrate and move. Citizen watches also sold well, particularly the ladies’ models.

The jeweler noted that this holiday marked the first February in the history of his business that he didn’t sell an engagement ring.

SOUTH CENTRAL
Icy weather in North Little Rock, Ark. kept Stanley Jewelers Gemologist closed the Saturday before Valentine’s Day.

“We didn’t get it nearly as bad as the rest of the South, but we were closed for one day and there were a few other days that would have been better if we had good weather,” says President Loyd Stanley.

Still, he says the store did well for the holiday, with customers buying diamond stud earrings, a big engagement ring sale that Stanley said may or may not have actually been for Valentine’s Day, and roses with their petals dipped in gold the store sells for $70, “a great gift for not much money,” Stanley says.

“I haven’t pulled the numbers up yet but I’m going to say it was busier than last year,” he says.

Valentine’s Day sales were down compared with last year at Barnes Jewelry in Amarillo, Texas, owner Jeff Fox said.

“People just weren’t shopping, traffic was definitely down. We had a day or two of winter weather but not enough to blame the slowness on that,” he says.

Of the jewelry that did sell, silver and diamond pieces were the strongest, with the store’s John Hardy and Charles Krypell brands performing well.

 Still, the average price point sale was “way under $1,000,” Fox says.

WEST
At Sami Fine Jewelry in Fountain Hills, Ariz., Valentine’s Day was both fun and chaotic, as the retailer extended an open invitation for couples to attend its “Love in the Hills” mass wedding vow renewal ceremony.

RELATED CONTENT: Ariz. retailer aiming for vow renewal record

While the store did not manage to break the world record for most couples renewing their wedding vows in one spot--it still stands at 1,087, set in Oxford, Ohio in 2009--CEO Stephenie Bjorkman says the event helped to boost Valentine’s Day sales. She said sales were up year-over-year for the week leading up to Feb. 14.

“This year, I feel like the event really pushed people to come into the store during Valentine’s Day,” says Bjorkman, noting that she spoke with one customer buying a $2,000 gift for his wife in her store after seeing an advertisement for Love in the Hills in the local newspaper. This man had lived in Fountain Hills for 10 years and had never been in the store before last week.

She says because her store’s clientele is older, 45 to 65, Valentine’s Day sales mostly consist of diamond upgrades and larger sales and not many “cutesy” heart pendants that younger consumers tend to get for their significant others.

And, unlike it has been in many other parts of the country, weather didn’t hamper sales at Sami Fine Jewelry. Bjorkman says it has been 70s and 80s all month.

Weather also hasn’t been a factor this winter, or for Valentine’s Day, at Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler in Bellevue, Wash.

“It’s been raining a lot over here but it’s just Seattle,” says Steve Goldfarb. “It rains a lot. We haven’t had any unusual weather problems.”

He says the store was busy leading up to and including Valentine’s Day, with the majority of sales ranging between $500 and $2,500 and including emerald earrings, Mikimoto pearls and diamond pendants and crosses along with a few, though not as many as expected, diamond heart pendants.

Though the store normally does a strong watch business, for Feb. 14, “It was all jewelry,” Goldfarb says. “It was all men buying for women.”

--Editor-in-Chief Michelle Graff contributed to this report.