By Brecken Branstrator
New York--In 2017, 678 retail jewelers ceased operations in the United States, down 41 percent when compared with the 1,156 retailers who did so in 2016, statistics released Thursday by the Jewelers Board of Trade show.

Counting wholesalers and manufacturers, the total number of jewelry businesses that closed in the U.S. last year was 852, compared with 1,518 last year.

Including Canada, 706 retailers, 109 wholesalers and 71 manufacturers closed up shop during the full year 2017, compared with 1,190, 235 and 139, respectively, last year.

It is not surprising that the year finished with fewer store closures, as the number has been down year-over-year every quarter this year, including the fourth.

The JBT’s statistics for Q4 2017, also released on Thursday, show that 161 jewelers closed up shop in the U.S., compared with 289 in the fourth quarter of last year, a 44 percent drop.

There also were 34 retailers that consolidated via a sale or merger and three that declared bankruptcy, bringing the total number of retail “business discontinuances,” as the JBT refers to them, to 198 in the U.S. in the fourth quarter.

Counting wholesalers and manufacturers, the total for businesses ceasing operations, filing for bankruptcy and engaging in a sale or merger in the U.S. during the three-month period was 241, down from 413 last year.

Including Canada, the total number of jewelry business discontinuances was 251, down from 425 in Q4 2016.

But the slowing rate of discontinuances wasn’t the only trend that continued; new business listings also were down.

In the U.S. in the fourth quarter, there were 38 new retailers compared with 48 in the fourth quarter 2016. There also were three new wholesalers and four new manufacturers during the quarter, compared with nine and one, respectively, for Q4 2016.

When looking at the full year, there were 131 new retailers in the U.S. in 2017 compared with 214 in 2016.

Including Canada, there were 42 new retailers in North America in the fourth quarter and 140 in the full year, compared with 48 in Q4 2016 and 218 for the full year.

Total listings for the U.S. jewelry industry ended the year down 4 percent at 26,031, compared with 27,059 the year prior.

Including Canada, the listing total for the year was 27,286, also a 4 percent decline from 2016.

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