New York--The trend of jewelry businesses shutting down continued in the third quarter, with the total number of closures pacing well ahead of last year.

The Jewelers Board of Trade’s vital statistic and trend data report for the third quarter shows that a total of 400 U.S. and Canadian jewelry businesses called it quits in the third quarter: 318 retail jewelers/repairers, 57 wholesalers and 25 manufacturers.

That is up 42 percent from the third quarter 2015, when 282 jewelry businesses closed, including 240 retail jewelers/repairers, 34 wholesalers and eight manufacturers.

Year-to-date, a total of 1,177 jewelry business owners ceased operations: 895 retail jewelers/repairers, 178 wholesalers and 104 manufacturers.

That is a 57 percent increase over last year.

“The trend is not reversing itself. There’s a downward trend in the number of retailers,” JBT President and CEO Anthony Capuano said in an interview Wednesday.

The reasons for the closures have been well documented.

Baby boomer store owners are reaching retirement age and many don’t have children who are interested in staying in the family business.

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At the same time, baby boomer consumers are entering a phase in their life in which they are looking to downsize and are not buying as much, for lack of a better word, stuff, choosing instead to spend their money on experiences.

Their children, the millennials, also value spending money on experiences over physical possessions, and many don’t enjoy the same level of middle-class security as the generations before them.

Further complicating the picture for brick-and-mortar retailers is increased competition, not just in terms of what consumers can and want to buy--experiences over physical possessions--but from online sellers of jewelry.

“Retailers are really fighting for those dollars because they are fighting a whole pattern of purchasing,” Capuano said. “You just have to be really good to survive and prosper.”

While the continually climbing number of closures among independent retailers is making news in the jewelry industry, it’s an old story for those who operated family-owned furniture and hardware stores and saw their industries taken over by large chains years ago.

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“I think this is sort of catch up right now,” Capuano said, though he noted that the personal nature of jewelry means that the independents in his industry are better positioned for survival than those in other fields.

As he put it, “Buying a screw is not a personal experience.”

Capuano also pointed to custom jewelry as an area that can offer the independent jeweler differentiation, and it seems that retailers of all sizes already are taking advantage of their ability to create made-to-order rings.

In a recent National Jeweler/Jewelers of America survey, more than half of jewelers said their custom jewelry sales have increased over the past three years, and Signet Jewelers is emphasizing custom in its advertising campaign for Jared the Galleria of Jewelry this holiday season.

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