By Sherry Smith
sherry@edgeretailacademy.com
Sherry Smith is director of business development for data and consulting company The Edge Retail Academy. She can be reached at sherry@edgeretailacademy.com.
By now most of our retailers have reopened for business, albeit with many restrictions and in an environment that is far removed from the pre-COVID-19 business climate.

While we have no idea when things will change, it is reasonable to assume retailers will continue to face challenges for the remainder of the year.

Despite the difficulties, we have seen retailers quickly adapt to circumstances beyond their control. They continue to be creative and to utilize less traditional methods to drive revenue.

Prior to COVID-19, our data showed retailers’ gross sales were up 6 percent in the 12 months ending February 2020 when compared to the same 12-month period from the previous year.

This was the last full month of pre-COVID-19 business.

By mid-March, numerous cities and states began implementing shelter-in-place mandates, forcing most retailers to close their doors.

What started out as a very strong March ended with a 33 percent decline in gross sales compared to March of 2019.

This was followed by a dismal April (gross sales down 39 percent) and a bleak May (gross sales down 50 percent).
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By June, however, retailers’ agility and willingness to adapt to the pandemic netted them a 2.3 percent increase in gross sales over June 2019.


July appears to be even better, as the 21-day period ending July 24 showed a 10 percent increase in gross sales.

The diamond categories specifically showed an impressive 16 percent increase in gross sales and a 19 percent increase in number of units sold.

More broadly, we are seeing a continuance of several trends through the pandemic.

Unit sales, which have been in decline for a few years, are now down double digits but gross sales continue to improve.

Shopping restrictions notwithstanding, it would seem there is a much more motivated customer out there. They are once again visiting retail jewelry stores with the intention of buying.

Finally, the data shows that the diamond categories are outperforming the market.

In June, units in the diamond categories were up 9.4 percent. And, as noted above, the diamond category performance month-to-date in July appears to be even stronger.

At the risk of stating the obvious, retailers should be reviewing not only their own data but also industry data more broadly to gauge performance and manage their businesses.

We should value our gut instinct and tap into our experience in running our businesses, yes, but using data to support or challenge assumptions should also be a given.

It would be easy to look at the overall numbers and stress over the decline in units of sale while taking comfort that gross sales are up.

But knowing how to interpret the data and understanding how it can help you manage your business is essential.

When you take a deeper dive into the data, there are clear winners and, in this case, it’s your diamond categories, which make up approximately 50 percent of all annual jewelry sales.

Edge Pulse users can delve even more deeply into our $2 billion in aggregated jewelry sales from the independent channel and identify several other important key performance indicators.

First, they’ll notice that loose diamonds drive 10 percent of total annual gross profit dollars with an increase in year-over-year average retail sale.

Second, they’ll see that diamond bracelets and diamond necklaces are both showing increases in gross sales, as well as units sold, in the rolling 12 months ending June 2020.

They then could conduct a further analysis to determine the specific price points as well as the vendors with the best-selling SKUs in these categories from our industry’s aggregated data.

Knowing this information is critical to managing your business.

It can help identify potential missing categories, price points and bestsellers from your top-performing vendors. It can also give you a data-based metric to measure your business against an important industry benchmark.

As June and July show, there is great grit and resilience in retail jewelry stores.

Keep up the great work, and let us know if we can help.

Sherry Smith is director of business development for data and consulting company The Edge Retail Academy. In her role, Smith works with wholesalers, brands and retail stores on business mentoring, and data analysis and aggregation. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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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.