On Data: How Are Independents Doing So Far This Holiday Season?

ColumnistsDec 06, 2023

On Data: How Are Independents Doing So Far This Holiday Season?

Sherry Smith breaks down the numbers on jewelry sales in November and reveals the category that “emerged as a standout.”

National Jeweler columnist Sherry Smith
Sherry Smith is director of business development for data and consulting company The Edge Retail Academy. She can be reached at
The year began with a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the jewelry industry. Economic experts predicted a recession, rising inflation, and a potential decline in consumer spending. 

These forecasts cast a shadow over the independent jeweler, raising concerns about their ability to weather the impending economic storm.

Despite these challenges, the independent jeweler has demonstrated remarkable resilience so far in 2023.  

They have navigated the market with agility and adaptability, a trend that appears to be continuing as the holiday season begins in earnest.

The Thanksgiving weekend brought positive outcomes for our independent retailers, who recorded a commendable 3 percent surge in gross sales and an impressive 5 percent increase in average retail sale, despite a marginal 2 percent decline in units sold.

During the same weekend, the diamond categories exhibited a mix of outcomes but with promising indicators. 

Notably, there was a marginal dip of less than 1 percent in gross sales, coupled with a commendable 6 percent increase in units sold. 

However, there was a 6 percent decline in average retail sale.

Independents continued their upward trajectory in the final week of November with a substantial 25 percent increase in gross sales. 

Units sold demonstrated strength with a robust 13 percent increase, while the average retail sale was up 11 percent.

Notably, our cherished diamond categories demonstrated remarkable performance in the last seven days of November, boasting a staggering 16 percent growth in gross sales and an impressive 18 percent increase in unit sales. 

Despite a decline of 2 percent in average retail sale, the overall results underscore the potential for continued success in the retail landscape.

 Related stories will be right here … 

Let’s delve into the results for the full month of November. The collective performance of our retailers continued to impress, contrary to some expectations.

Overall, our independent retailers had a robust month, with a 6 percent increase in gross sales, a notable 2 percent uptick in units sold, and a commendable 4 percent increase in average retail sale compared with November 2022.

Pearls emerged as a standout category, exhibiting a remarkable 15 percent growth in gross sales and an impressive 26 percent surge in average retail sale, even with a 9 percent decline in units sold. 

Pearl rings took the spotlight with a stellar 39 percent increase in gross sales, a 22 percent boost in units sold, and a 13 percent rise in average retail sale. 

Additionally, pearl bracelets demonstrated a strong showing with a 36 percent increase in gross sales and an outstanding 71 percent surge in units sold.

Gold jewelry categories collectively excelled, recording an overall 11 percent increase in gross sales coupled with a 5 percent rise in both units sold and average retail sale.

The watch category showcased remarkable performance across the board, boasting an 11 percent increase in gross sales, a 3 percent rise in units sold, and an 8 percent increase in average retail sale.

Colored stone jewelry also did not disappoint. The category displayed a commendable 6 percent increase in gross sales and units sold, with the average retail sale holding steady. 

Particularly noteworthy were the performances of colored stone necklaces (34 percent increase in gross sales) and colored stone bracelets (27 percent increase).

While sterling silver and alternative metal jewelry experienced slight declines in all key performance indicators, those declines were less than 1 percent. 

Within the diamond realm, compelling shifts have emerged, painting a nuanced portrait of consumer behavior. 

While overall gross sales for diamonds dipped by 2 percent in November and average retail sale was down 7 percent, unit sales displayed a resilient 5 percent increase, suggesting a keen willingness to purchase, albeit at potentially lower price points.

Significantly, three out of the four diamond categories experiencing a decline are bridal related. This observation hints at the possibility that the number of weddings might be gradually returning to pre-COVID levels.

Conversely, diamond necklaces and bracelets ascended as standouts, captivating consumers with their allure. 

Necklaces sparkled, with a 14 percent increase in gross sales accompanied by an 18 percent surge in average retail value, underscoring their undeniable appeal. 

Bracelets, too, gracefully embraced the spotlight, with a 13 percent boost in gross sales and a remarkable 17 percent rise in units sold.

In conclusion, the remarkable performance observed across various jewelry categories in November serves as a compelling testament to the resilience and adaptability of the independent jeweler. 

Despite the uncertainties and conflicting forecasts that marked the beginning of the year, these professionals have not only weathered the challenges but also demonstrated the ability to thrive in a dynamic market.

The positive trajectory seen in November instills a sense of optimism for the independent jeweler community. 

In the face of uncertainties, let’s hope the independent jeweler emerges not just as a survivor but as a thriving force, setting the stage for continued prosperity in the jewelry market.

Sherry Smithis director of business development at Edge Retail Academy, the leading jewelry business consulting and data aggregation firm.

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