Season Continues to Be Strong, Jewelers Say

SurveysDec 19, 2016

Season Continues to Be Strong, Jewelers Say

National Jeweler checked in with 10 jewelers to see how their business has been since Black Friday. Here’s what they had to say.

New York--On Monday morning, National Jeweler checked in with 10 retailers to see how their business has been since Black Friday weekend, a weekend that seemed a harbinger of good things to come for many jewelers.

What we found was that the season continues to be a strong one, with retailers reporting strong sales of diamond jewelry and more optimistic consumers, who seemed to be emerging from election season malaise.

Read on to see how your store’s sales compare to those of other jewelers in your region.

Northeast: Battling Weather
In Massachusetts, Steve Duvarney of Duvarney Jewelers said they had a “disappointing” weekend after a snowstorm on Saturday affected both sales and traffic.

Bad weather can have a big impact on jewelers with a downtown location like him, he said, because people aren’t out strolling like usual.

On the bright side, he’s thankful that it fell a full week before Christmas, and Duvarney said he believes a lot of the people who didn’t make it in this past weekend will still visit the store before the holiday comes this weekend.

Overall, the holiday season has been pretty good for the retailer so far, with sales up slightly over 2015.

They’ve seen a lot of engagement ring sales for the Christmas season, which helps the bottom line since those tend to be bigger purchases.

As far as the rest of the season goes, they’ve got a TV spot already planned to run and will stay active on social media to help draw attention to the store.

Duvarney also said that he thinks the store will get some more good business between Christmas and New Year’s so, overall, he’s feeling good about the remaining sales weeks for the holidays.

The snow covering the Northeast also hurt Evan James Ltd. in Brattleboro, Vermont, slowing down traffic and sales over the weekend, according to Evan James Deutsch.

But even with business on three out of the last seven days slowed by weather, the season has been good to the store so far, trending ahead of last December. Deutsch said there has been less traffic but higher dollar sales, indicating that consumers perhaps are feeling more comfortable spending.

“The weather just killed us,” he said. “But, sales have been so resilient (this season), and if it wasn’t for that, it would’ve been a disaster.”

And, he mentioned, there’s still more shopping season to come.

Deutsch told National Jeweler
that last year, they did 60 percent of their sales in the six days before Christmas, so this week could still be a big one for the retailer. And they generally do a decent amount of business in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, as people come in to exchange, buy engagement rings, or use gift cards.

Southeast: A Mixed Bag
Steve Allen of Allen’s Jewelers in Albany, Georgia, said that the weekend went “better than (he) thought it would,” noting strong sales and traffic.

Since the store didn’t do any special promotions or deals, Allen said he assumed the strong performance was just due to the fact that it was the last full weekend of shopping before Christmas.

The holiday season overall has been good for the Southern retailer, with Allen telling National Jeweler that the store is way ahead of every year since the recession started.

And if the year finishes up as strongly as Allen hopes it will, Allen’s Jewelers is on track to have its strongest year since 2007.

Meanwhile, in Ocala, Florida, Jerry Gause of Gause & Son Jewelers said that the season has been very slow for them, with traffic and sales both down so far, though he doesn’t know why that might be.

“For the month of December, we’re off quite a bit. But we had a big year last year, so it’s hard to match that.”

What he’s been noticing this year is that nobody has been even looking at their big ticket items. With the exception of Rolex watch purchases, many customers are looking for diamond fashion jewelry generally priced at or under $2,500.

He also said his expectations have lowered a little for the holiday season overall after the slowness of the weekend, and doesn’t expect to be able to come close to last year’s performance, even if they see a lot of traffic in this final week leading up to Christmas.

Midwest: In High Gear
Randy Cole, the owner of Diamond Vault of Troy, located in Troy, Michigan, has seen his positive holiday season predictions come to life, noting that business is “on fire,” calling it “10-years-ago positive.”

Cole reiterated the importance of earning great customer services reviews on sites like Yelp and Google, noting that “we’re a destination store and millennials go right to the iPhone and search and find us.”

Cole acknowledged that jewelry store closures in the area are likely contributing to the health of his business, as they are “getting a lot more people outside of our base.”

While Cole is already up from last year, he still has the most lucrative time of the year ahead of him: the four days leading up to Christmas. He is also expecting good business between Christmas and New Year’s, when a lot of customers come into town eager to spend their Christmas money.

Theresia Oreskovic, the owner of Peter & Co. Jewelers in Avon Lake, Ohio, has also been experiencing a holiday season that is “really in high gear now,” after an initially slow start.

This year, Oreskovic is doing well with bracelets, particularly diamond bracelets, as well as classic diamond studs.

“Our store is pretty much even with last year as far as the foot traffic, but it’s nice to see it picking up. People are coming in to buy,” she said, adding, “We always feel like the weather has so much to do with it.”

For Oreskovic, snowfall tends to drive business, as it gets shoppers in the holiday mood.

She didn’t feel any discernible impact from the election but Michigan-based Cole noted that in the 10 election cycles his business has weathered, this one has been unlike any other.

Despite a general feeling of uncertainty, Cole said that within a week of the election, even Hillary Clinton supporters were back in the market spending money.

South Central: Big Diamonds and Mixed Business
Retailers in this area of the country have been selling big diamonds that will be making some lucky customers very happy on Christmas morning.

“What we’re really seeing is people that are buying larger, more expensive goods,” explained Mark Williams, owner of Murphy’s Jewelers in Magnolia, Arkansas.

Diamonds upwards of 2 carats have been a big seller for Williams. He recently sold a half-million 10-carat diamond set in a ring, a 30+ years of marriage Christmas present.

“We’re all caught up with last year,” said Williams, “and we’re looking for a really busy week this week, especially with Christmas on a Saturday.”

That gives customers an entire week of shopping with Christmas on their minds.

Aaron Penaloza of San Antonio, Texas-based C. Aaron Penaloza Jewelers recently sold a 6-carat diamond that put him ahead of last year. Overall, though, business has been slower, and considering the fact that last year was one of the worst Christmases the store has had in 10 years, it’s not a good thing.

Foot traffic and number of sales have been down for the Texas store.

Like Williams, Penaloza is also waiting for the four or five day run-up to Christmas Day for the biggest sales of the month.

“There’s still time for it to pull out,” he said. “We have a lot of guys who wait until the very last minute, who enjoy the adrenaline rush of shopping in a frenzy.”

November was a great month for Penaloza, who noted that once the election was over, people seemed to calm down. However, when reports of possible election rigging came up, this seemed to affect sales negatively.

In Arkansas, the election has seemed to have a more positive correlation, according to Williams, who said that post-election, traffic was way up.

West: Better Than Before
At the start of the holiday season, Mike Butterfield of Butterfield Jewelers was concerned about how a nearby competitor’s going-out-of-business sale was going to impact the holiday season at his store.

So far, though, it really hasn’t.

“We’re holding our own, I’ll put it that way,” Butterfield said over the phone from his Albuquerque jewelry store on Monday morning.

He said his philosophy about the near GOB sale, which has now cranked up to 90 percent off, is this: You can let it eat away at you, or you can put your head down and concentrate on serving your customers.

So far, Butterfield has opted for the former, and to great effect.

The store is pacing ahead of last year going into these few final days before the holidays, and he said he will consider the season a success if they finish within 5 percentage points of last year.

Following a Black Friday that was surprisingly strong, business at Alvin Goldfarb Jewelers in Bellevue, Washington has paced ahead of last year so far, Steve Goldfarb said.

Though he has still has some big days from last year to go up against, he said he expects to be busy on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, particularly given the tame weather forecast--highs in the upper 30s/lower 40s, no precipitation--for the Northwest.

Goldfarb said jewelry has been outselling watches at his store, with mid-priced Roberto Coin, colored stone pieces and diamond jewelry that’s a bit outside the box--hoops and drops instead of studs, for example--performing particularly well.

“Overall, people have been in an awfully good mood,” this holiday season, Goldfarb said. “There seems to be a good mood around this holiday season.”
Ashley Davisis the senior editor, fashion at National Jeweler, covering all things related to design, style and trends.

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