National Jeweler Network

Retail Surveys

Silver sales continue to climb, survey shows


New York--A total of 91 percent of retailers reported that their silver sales increased or stayed the same in 2012 as compared with 2011, the Silver Promotion Service’s (SPS) annual survey shows.

Of those 91 percent, the vast majority--77 percent--reported an increase in silver sales last year while 14 percent said their silver sales remained the same year-over-year. Only 9 percent reported that sales in the category declined.

SPS Director Michael Barlerin said this is the fourth year the SPS has conducted its Silver Jewelry Buying Trends survey; the first took place in 2009 measuring jewelers’ sales for 2008. Each year, silver has recorded a year-over-year percentage growth rate in the high 70s or low 80s, a trend that continued this year.

“What I was struck by was the fact that the data for 2012 was on par with the data for the last three years,” he said. “I thought, candidly, that the rate of growth might have slowed. I was very pleasantly surprised.”

A total of 397 retailers representing 3,500 doors took the SPS’ survey, which was conducted online between Feb. 7 and 25 in conjunction with National Jeweler and Nielsen.

Among those retailers reporting an increase in their silver sales, the greatest percentage, 50 percent, reported a sales increase of between 11 and 25 percent while 20 percent reported an increase of more than 25 percent.

The average increase in silver jewelry sales for respondents was 19 percent.

The metal also continued to produce the best maintained margins for retailers. According to the survey, 42 percent of retailers reported that as a merchandise category, silver gave them the “best” maintained margins.

Diamond jewelry followed at 24 percent, bridal at 20 percent, gold at 8 percent and platinum at 6 percent.

Barlerin said what the survey shows is that retailers are stocking more silver jewelry as consumers embrace the breadth of design now available in the category.

In the survey, he said one retailer was quoted as calling silver the new gold. “I call silver the new everything. It’s providing so much for the consumer and so much for the retailer,” he said.

The boom in silver sales is expected to continue. According to the survey, 62 percent of retailers said that silver was important (29 percent) or very important (33 percent) to their business, and 90 percent said they believe the surge in silver sales will continue for the next several years.

Barlerin said it’s indicative of a “sea change” for the metal that was spurred not just by the rising price of gold but by new designs in the category and its acknowledgment as a precious metal.

Other highlights from the survey include:

-- A total of 69 percent of survey-takers reported an increase in silver sales during the 2012 holiday season.

--The vast majority of silver sales are $500 or under. Of those surveyed, 49 percent reported that most of their silver sales were between $100 and $500 while 44 percent said they were less than $100.

--As a percentage of overall sales, retailers said on average that silver sales accounted for 31 percent of unit volume and 24 percent of dollar volume.

--Seventy-four percent of retailers increased their silver inventory in 2012 by an average of 28 percent.

--The greatest percentage, 62 percent, of people buying silver are between 20 and 40 years of age. Silver jewelry also is mostly a female self-purchase item. Forty-seven percent of retailers said the best selling opportunity for silver is for women who want to buy a piece of jewelry for themselves.

A total of 83 percent of the 397 survey-takers were independent retailers while 4 percent were jewelry chains and 13 percent described themselves as other.

Respondents were located in all areas of the country, with retailers from the middle Atlantic region comprising the greatest percentage of respondents at 31 percent. Seventeen percent of survey-takers hailed from the south Atlantic region while 13 percent were east north central and 11 percent west north central.

National Jeweler, along with Couture and the JA New York Shows, comprise the Jewelry Group of Nielsen Expositions. Nielsen Expositions is owned by Nielsen, a global information and media company.