Jewelry Sales Surge in May, Says Mastercard

FinancialsJun 18, 2021

Jewelry Sales Surge in May, Says Mastercard

U.S. jewelry sales were up more than 200 percent year-over-year in May while also exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

An 18-karat rose gold “Petit Garden” bracelet set with pink sapphires by Pasquale Bruni ($5,850). Jewelry sales were on the rise in May, according to a survey by Mastercard SpendingPulse.
Purchase, N.Y.—Jewelry sales more than tripled in May as COVID-19 restrictions lifted and reopenings continued, according to a recent Mastercard SpendingPulse survey.
Sales in the category were up 203 percent year-over-year in May and up 45 percent when compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
The survey measures overall U.S. retail sales across all payment types, including cash and check.
U.S. retail sales, excluding automobiles and gas, were up 12 percent year-over-year in May and up 10 percent compared with May 2019, according to Mastercard. 
Online sales were up 1 percent year-over-year and 95 percent compared with May 2019.
The National Retail Federation, which calculates core retail sales and excludes auto sales, gas stations, and restaurants, also found that sales were on the rise year-over-year, though down compared with sales in April.

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By sector, the Mastercard survey found the lodging category saw the highest year-over-year growth, up 254 percent as the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions makes way for vacation planning. Compared with 2019, the sector’s sales were down 2 percent.
Department stores sales were up 212 percent year-over-year and up 4 percent compared with 2019.
Restaurants saw the fourth-highest growth year-over-year, up 85 percent, followed by apparel (76 percent), furniture and furnishings (23 percent), and grocery (5 percent).
The survey narrowed in on the back-to-school season, which runs from July 15 through September 6.
“Back to school has always been a prime season for retailers. This year, the broader reopening brings an exciting wave of optimism as children prepare for another school year, and the grown-ups in their lives approach a similar ‘return to office’ scenario,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated, in a press release about the survey.
U.S. retail sales, excluding automotive and gas, are expected to grow nearly 6 percent year-over-year during this season. Compared to pre-pandemic 2019, sales are expected to grow about 7 percent.
“This back-to-school season will be defined by choice as online sales remain robust, brick and mortar browsing regains momentum and strong promotions help retailers compete for shoppers' wallets,” said Sadove.
E-commerce sales are expected to be down 7 percent year-over-year during this period, but, when compared with pre-pandemic 2019, sales will be up 53 percent.
Looking at retail trends, the survey forecasted a move away from athleisure to going-out clothes as in-person events start up again. 
In turn, department stores, outdoor shopping centers, and malls are expected to see foot traffic rebound. 
Consumers are still expecting “low-contact experiences,” like buy online, pick-up in store options and contactless payments.
Tech upgrades may also be on the horizon as consumers look to stay connected.
Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

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