Columnists

On Data: Subdued Sales in the Second Week of December

ColumnistsDec 21, 2023

On Data: Subdued Sales in the Second Week of December

Independent jewelers’ sales increased 1 percent from Dec. 7-14 and some interesting trends emerged, Sherry Smith writes.

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 sherry@edgeretailacademy.com.
The sparkle of the holiday season often illuminates trends within the jewelry market, particularly among our independent jewelers. 

This year, from Dec. 7 to 14, the glimmer was somewhat subdued, with just a 1 percent increase in overall gross sales. 

However, behind this seemingly modest figure lies a captivating narrative of category performance, shifts in price points and evolving consumer preferences, all of which provide valuable insights into the market’s ever-changing landscape.

Traditionally, diamonds have long been synonymous with holiday sparkle, but this year, their brilliance shines a bit differently for independent jewelers. 

From Dec. 7 to 14, a 3 percent decline in overall gross sales belies a fascinating tapestry of contrasting performances within the diamond category. 

Bridal pieces, once guaranteed bestsellers, take a backseat, while diamond fashion jewelry takes center stage, prompting us to ask, what trends are shaping consumer desires and how are independent jewelers adapting?

While overall unit sales dipped 5 percent, the average retail sale climbed 6 percent, suggesting a possible strategic shift towards higher-value items. 

Diamonds performed unevenly, with fashion jewelry sales rising 3 percent but bridal dragging down the category with a 10 percent decline.

While data remains somewhat limited, initial findings indicate a decline in the frequency of weddings and engagements in 2023 when contrasted with 2022. 

This trend may be further influenced by the fact that contemporary couples, particularly millennial and Gen Z couples, increasingly are embracing alternative relationship models. 

Many are opting for non-formalized engagement or marriage arrangements, prioritizing diverse life goals such as career advancement, travel, and personal growth, all of which take precedence over early matrimony.

Predicting a rebound to pre-pandemic engagement levels is tricky. While economic recovery and industry adaptation could spark a resurgence, evolving values and flexible relationship models may keep the numbers closer to current trends.

 Related stories will be right here … 

Colored stones and pearls faced headwinds, dropping 3 percent in gross sales and nearly 9 percent in units, although the average retail sale edged up 7 percent.

Sterling silver and alternative metals, traditionally popular holiday choices, stumbled with an 11 percent decline in both gross sales and units. However, the average retail sale inched up 5 percent, potentially reflecting the removal of lower price points.

Watches continue to shine this December, boasting an impressive 9 percent surge in gross sales and an impressive 15 percent uptick in average retail price, even in the face of a 5 percent decrease in units sold.

There were bright spots in the service categories as well, defying an 11 percent drop in units serviced with a commendable 3 percent rise in gross sales, primarily attributable to a remarkable 15 percent increase in average retail sale.

Overall, despite economic uncertainties, independent jewelers continue to demonstrate resilience and adaptability. The focus on higher-ticket items and diversification across categories holds promise for a strong finish to the holiday season and beyond.

As the independent jewelry market stands at a pivotal juncture, the decisions taken in this critical moment hold the power to shape its future. 

Will the emphasis on premium items persist? Will diversification of product categories yield success? Only time will tell. 

What remains undeniable is that independent jewelers, with their resilience and adaptability, are ready to craft the narrative that lies ahead.

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