Columnists

On Data: Here’s How Independent Jewelers Did in 2022

ColumnistsJan 24, 2023

On Data: Here’s How Independent Jewelers Did in 2022

Sherry Smith breaks down retailers’ performance last year, including how natural diamonds fared vs. lab-grown.

2021_Sherry Smith.jpg
Sherry Smith is director of business development for data and consulting company The Edge Retail Academy. She can be reached at sherry@edgeretailacademy.com.
Despite wide-ranging speculation about what sales results might be following 2021, the strongest year in the history of our industry, 2022 turned out to be a good year, all things considered. 

Gross sales finished flat with independent jewelers. The momentum from the COVID economy (good for our business, less so for other luxury) parlayed into strong first and second quarters. 

A more challenging environment settled in at the end of the second quarter, when a shortfall in unit sales (usually a good proxy for declining foot traffic) chipped away at gains made in the first half of the year. 

Overall gross sales were down only 1/10 of 1 percent (basically flat) when compared with 2021, while units sold slipped 5 percent year-over-year in 2022.

Despite declines in some key performance indicators, the average retail sale ended the year up 6 percent. 

One can speculate about why—the rising price of diamonds, fluctuations in metal pricing, economic climate, inflation, etc.—but the average retail sale has continued its four-year upward trajectory.  

Gross profit dollars in 2022 were down 2 percent, potentially a result of some creative pricing practices in the fourth quarter. 

The positive results in 2022 did not play out evenly across all categories, however. 

“While lab-grown loose [diamonds are] growing in market share, [they are] still a small percentage of the market when compared with natural loose diamond sales.” — Sherry Smith 

For example, all loose diamonds had consistent declines through the fourth quarter with gross sales down 21 percent in October and November, and down 20 percent in December. 

Only the strength of H1 sales kept overall declines at 6 percent for the full year.

The picture for natural diamonds versus lab-grown diamonds was vastly different. 

Natural loose diamonds were up 1.3 percent in gross sales for 2022, while gross sales of lab-grown loose diamonds grew a robust 45 percent. 

Both natural diamonds and lab-grown diamonds were down in units sold, 7 percent and 9 percent respectively.

It’s also important to note that while lab-grown loose is growing in market share, it still comprises a small percentage of the market when compared with natural loose diamond sales in the independent channel. 

Semi-mounts were down 7 percent in gross sales for the year after a challenging fourth quarter. Gross sales in the category dropped 22 percent in October, 13 percent in November, and 15 percent in December. 

Semi-mounts were also down 10 percent in total units sold, but up 4 percent in average retail sale when compared with 2021.

Complete diamond engagement rings experienced similar results, showing declines in gross sales in October (down 19 percent), November (down 19 percent), and December (down 16 percent).
 
For the full year, independent jewelers recorded a 9 percent drop in gross sales of complete diamond engagement rings and a 14 percent decline in units sold, but a 7 percent increase in average retail sale. 

 Related stories will be right here … 

The watch category continued to do well in 2022, showing a 3 percent increase in gross sales and an 8 percent increase in average retail sale. Watches were only 0.5 percent down in units sold, with margins holding steady.

The colored stones and pearl categories were up 2 percent in gross sales, down 6 percent in units sold and up 9 percent in average retail sale when compared with 2021.

Gross sales of jewelry in the precious metals without stones category rose 3 percent in gross sales but fell 3 percent in units sold. The average retail sale was up 6 percent for the year.

Sterling silver and alternative metals declined 7 percent in gross sales and 12 percent in units sold; however, the average retail sale was up 6 percent.

Services were up in all key performance indicators—9 percent in gross sales, 1 percent in units sold, 9 percent in gross profit and 8 percent in average retail sale.


I have read numerous articles about what to expect in 2023 and two common themes stand out.

First, retailers should focus on customer retention and second, improve the customer experience. This makes so much sense when you look at the statistics.

Many companies state that 65-75 percent of their business comes from existing customers, with many sources reporting that repeat customers spend an average of 67 percent more than new customers.

According to a 2021 study on personalization, 60 percent of consumers are more likely to become repeat customers after a personalized shopping experience.

While we may need to work harder for the customers’ business in 2023, customers continue to demonstrate an appetite to buy, even as we’ve seen a small decrease in discretionary spending.
Sherry Smithis director of business development at Edge Retail Academy, the leading jewelry business consulting and data aggregation firm.

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