By Michelle Graff
The latest statistics from the Jewelers Board of Trade show that in the United States, 108 new retailers have opened so far this year, up from 59 in the same period last year.
New York—Second-quarter statistics from the Jewelers Board of Trade showed a continuation of the trend seen in the first quarter: Jewelry stores continue to close, but there is an increase in the number of businesses coming online, with independents opening up stores where they sense opportunity.

The JBT’s new business summary for the second quarter 2018 showed an 80 percent year-over-year increase in the number of new jewelry retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers in North America, from 77 in 2017 to 137 so far this year.

In the United States, 108 new retailers have opened businesses in the first half of the year, nearly double the number that had done so by this point last year.

New wholesalers, meanwhile, number 15 while new manufacturers are at 10, up from six in both categories in the same period last year.  

In an interview Monday, JBT President Richard Weisenfeld said small jewelry store chains—many of which are family-owned businesses that operate a handful of stores—are taking advantage of opportunities as they arise.

They are moving into markets where a jewelry store has just closed, looking to fill the void left by the exit of the community’s longtime local jeweler.

One example is Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry. The family-run retailer announced earlier this year that it would be opening its ninth store in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which lost Beauchamp Jewelers in 2016.

There is also a growing rate of retailers scaling back from being full-time brick-and-mortar stores to having limited hours or operating using a by-appointment-only model. (These types of transitions do not show up in the JBT’s quarterly statistics; they are not recorded as a new business opening or an existing business closing.)

In the coming quarter, however, Weisenfeld said he doesn’t expect the number of new businesses to continue to climb as sharply, pointing out that the first two quarters of the year are typically when jewelry retailers choose to open.

“If you’re opening a new store, you want it up and running before the holiday season. The time to do that is now, not September-October.”
“Long-term, I think it’s healthy for the industry. Everybody would be happy if there was a smaller, but more robust, group of independent retailers.” — Richard Weisenfeld on the continuing closures among retailers
While there was an increase in the number of businesses entering the industry, the JBT’s Q2 statistics also show the number of closures continues to rise, outweighing the number of new businesses coming online overall.

The number of jewelry businesses (retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers) in North America that have shut down so far this year is 507. That is a 4 percent increase from 2017.

In the United States, 399 jewelers have closed so far this year, compared with 371 in the same period last year, representing an 8 percent increase.

Wholesale closures in the U.S., meanwhile, are down to 46 from 62, while closures among manufacturers are up slightly, from 31 year-to-date last year to 33 so far this year.

Weisenfeld said he expects the closings to continue.

He said there are a number of businesses that are just “hanging on, hoping things will get better,” and also noted that the companies that run the industry’s going-out-of-business and inventory reduction sales are busy, both of which indicate more closings to come.

“Long-term, I think it’s healthy for the industry. Everybody would be happy if there was a smaller, but more robust, group of independent retailers,” Weisenfeld said.

The total number of jewelry business in North America listed with the JBT at the end of the second quarter 2018 was 26,743, down 4 percent year-over-year.

In the United States, listings totaled 25,484, down 5 percent from the same time last year.

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