By Lenore Fedow
New York—Mother’s Day spending was expected to reach a 16-year high this year of $25 billion, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation.

The survey forecasted that 35 percent of shoppers would opt for jewelry, amounting to $5.2 billion, a 34 percent increase compared with Mother’s Day 2018.

The NRF has not released final sales numbers for the holiday, but National Jeweler reached out to 10 jewelers across the country to see if jewelry sales did indeed increase.

The verdict? Mother’s Day was a mixed bag.

Northeast: Nothing Special

“Dollars good, traffic OK,” said Steven Duvarney of Duvarney Jewelers, succinctly summing up how Mother’s Day sales were for his stores.

Founded back in 1854, Duvarney Jewelers has stores in Fitchburg and Clinton, Mass., just about an hour outside of Boston in nearby Worcester County.

Though there were no Mother’s Day promotions going on at the store, sales were a bit better than last year, Duvarney said, with the help of a few bigger ticket items.

The store sold quite a few personalized name necklaces, he noted, a trend he has seen rising over the last six months.

For Jonathan Mervis of Mervis Diamond Importers, a Washington-area jewelry business, Mother’s Day sales were about average.

“We don’t do a big business on Mother’s Day,” Mervis said. “It’s not a major event.”

The low level of interest dissuades the stores, located in D.C. and neighboring Virginia and Maryland, from offering any type of Mother’s Day promotions.

Customers flocked to classics like diamond studs and pendants, as well as a few sapphires, Mervis said.

He noted there were quite a few last-minute purchases, with many customers stopping in a day or two before the holiday.

Southeast: So-So Sales

Goodman & Sons Jewelers in Virginia has been around for more than 70 Mother’s Day holidays.

The store dates back to 1947, when founder and Navy veteran Stanley Goodman set up a watch repair stand in Fort Eustis, a military base just outside the riverside town of Newport News.

This year, fewer customers stopped by the store to pick up a Mother’s Day gift, said Tony Goodman, president and third-generation jeweler.

Traffic was down about 10 percent, he noted, but the average sale was up.

The customers who did visit were drawn to fashion jewelry, particularly diamonds, and the store’s Pandora offerings.

The store reached out to customers old and new with radio advertisements and sent out catalogues, but, similar to other jewelers we spoke with, didn’t offer any special promotions for the holiday.

For Sue Sandalon of Sue Sandalon Jewelry Design, Mother’s Day didn’t seem to be on her customers’ radar.

Sandalon set up shop 25 years ago in a strip mall just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, designing one-of-a-kind pieces and reworking old jewelry into something new.

“The Hallmark holidays have never been strong,” Sandalon said, pointing specifically to Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

It was a good week nevertheless, she said, with quite a few presents picked out to celebrate graduations as well as birthdays and anniversaries.

The boutique sold diamond bracelets and a few pairs of earrings, but nothing specifically for Mother’s Day.

There were no promotions going on, but Sandalon did wish her Instagram followers a happy Mother’s Day.

Midwest: Looking Up

Bill Longnecker of Longnecker Jewelry in McCook, Nebraska, had an “excellent” Mother’s Day, seeing sales increase 50 percent compared with last year.

Custom jewelry was a hit this year, he said, accounting for most of his holiday weekend sales.

“We gave 20 percent off for Mother's Day gifts. No one asked for those,” Longnecker said.

Born and raised in Nebraska, Longnecker has run his jewelry store for the last 22 years.

The surrounding agrarian community, consisting of many farmers and ranchers, was hit hard by floods and a brutally cold winter.

As cattle and crops died off, fewer customers spent money on non-essentials and Valentine’s Day sales were bleak.

It took a while for business to pick back up, Longnecker said, but he is happy to see the business spring back.

Cody Miller of Alan Miller Jewelers reported strong sales for the holiday as well.

His father, Alan Miller, set up shop in Oregon, Ohio, a city in the northwest portion of the state just off Lake Erie, back in 1987 and has been running it with his family ever since.

Sales were on par with last year, Miller said, with most customers stopping in for silver jewelry and diamond studs, including a few larger diamonds.

A five-year interest-free promotional plan was being offered to customers for the holiday.

“It costs us quite the percentage, but I think it helped draw in larger diamond sales,” Miller said.

The store pulled out all the advertising stops, running radio, TV, direct mail, and prints ads, which still do surprisingly well, he added.

On the social media front, the store draws in customers with Facebook ads.

South Central: Warming Up

If everything is bigger in Texas, then Mother’s Day is no exception.

Susan Eisen of Susan Eisen Fine Jewelry & Watches in El Paso, Texas, said she had a wonderful Mother’s Day.

It was no easy feat, Eisen said, with more and more customers coming in for custom-designed pieces or looking for guidance on what to buy.

That can make it hard to market to customers, she said, but this year was better than previous years in some ways.

Team-selling was key for the retailer, working together to get a sense of the customer’s style and making fitting recommendations.

“You have to be improvising and changing all the time. You cannot do what you used to do and expect the same kinds of results,” Eisen said.

There were no special promotions for the holiday, but most customers left with silver jewelry, including some that featured gemstones.

The Texas jeweler regularly reaches out to customers old and new via social media, email blasts, and a billboard, but did not employ any holiday-specific advertising.

Meanwhile in Magnolia, Arkansas, Mark Williams of Murphy’s Jewelers had a store buzzing with people when National Jeweler called Thursday.

“Our year, fortunately, has gone very well,” Williams said, noting that sales this year have been “way up” compared with the last two years.

His grandfather Jerome Murphy founded the store in 1939 during the South Arkansas Oil Boom, according to the store’s site.

This year marks the store’s 80th anniversary, and Murphy said that though there were no Mother’s Day-specific promotions or advertising, customers have been coming in to take advantage of the store’s anniversary sales.

He added that they have been especially interested in diamond jewelry.

West Coast: Mixed Results

Out west, Bill Maxey of Butterfield Jewelers in Albuquerque, New Mexico, echoed the so-so sentiments of several jewelers National Jeweler contacted.

Maxey said sales this year were “fair,” but also noted that it’s not usually a big holiday for the store.

He also noted an uptick in requests for custom jewelry but said that many customers stopped by at the last minute, not giving the necessary two-week minimum to make a custom piece.

And though there were no promotions going on, customers were looking for deals.

Fewer customers are shelling out big bucks for the holiday, Maxey said, with some customers looking to spend between $30 and $40.

On average, customers were spending in the $200 to $400 range.

The top-sellers were low price-point items, mainly silver jewelry such as necklaces and pendants, but a few customers bought gold jewelry as well.

Meanwhile, Brenda Johannes-Boyd of Johannes Hunter Jewelers in Colorado Springs, Colorado, used social media to draw customers in for the holiday.

“Mother’s Day was solid relative to years past,” she said, noting that in-store traffic was “significantly up.”

The store, which opened its doors in 1988 in the bustling University Village Colorado Shopping Center, posts frequently on Facebook and Instagram to showcase its offerings and special promotions.

This year, the store highlighted its “origami critters,” which are sterling silver pendants in the shapes of origami-style animals, appealing to both moms and pet moms.

Boyd said the whimsical pendants, featuring cats, dogs, and other animals, were the most popular, but not a high-ticket item, selling for around $129.

Though the store has a strong social media presence, Boyd said most customers find them through a Google search.

Get the Daily News >
National Jeweler

Fine Jewelry Industry News

Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.