On Data: In December, A Tale of Two Markets

ColumnistsDec 28, 2023

On Data: In December, A Tale of Two Markets

The first 21 days of the month revealed surprising shifts in consumer behavior, Sherry Smith says.

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
Scratch the surface of holiday sparkle, and you’ll find a tale of two markets: stability in total sales for independent jewelers but surprising shifts in consumer preferences. 

This report dissects these trends, arming you with insights to navigate the changing market and maximize your holiday sparkle. 

Dive deeper and discover which categories are cooling off while others bask in the holiday spotlight. 

Overall, total gross sales for independent jeweler were steady in the first 21 days of December. 

However, a subtle 5 percent decrease in unit sales coupled with an average retail sale of $590 suggests a cautious consumer approach. 

The diamond categories (including sales of both natural and lab-grown stones) continued their downward trajectory, with a 5 percent decrease in gross sales and a 4 percent fall in unit sales, yet they boasted a robust average retail sale of $2,184.

Sales of bridal jewelry, traditionally seen as a bellwether for broader market trends, notably reflected this cautious sentiment. Gross sales fell 12 percent and there was a 5 percent decline in units sold. 

This downturn may be attributed to the number of engagements normalizing to pre-COVID levels, suggesting a shift back to traditional buying patterns rather than a decrease in overall market health. 

Conversely, the diamond fashion segments showed resilience with a slight 1 percent uptick in gross sales, though unit sales dipped by 3 percent, achieving an average retail sale of $1,862.

The colored stone and pearl categories also felt the market’s shifts, with gross sales down a little more than 2 percent and unit sales decreasing 8 percent, yet they maintained a commendable average retail sale of $943. 

The gold jewelry category was a mixed bag, with a 3 percent increase in gross sales counterbalanced by a 2 percent decrease in unit sales, and an average retail price of $523.

Watches, while experiencing a 5 percent decrease in units sold, defied the trend with a 12 percent increase in gross sales thanks to a strong average retail sale. 

In contrast, sterling silver and alternative metals faced a more challenging environment, with both gross sales and units sold down by 12 percent. 

Repair and custom services, however, were a bright spot, with gross sales increasing 7 percent despite a 3 percent decline in units sold. 

Lastly, giftware faced a downturn, with a 4 percent decrease in gross sales and a more pronounced 10 percent decrease in units sold.

 Related stories will be right here … 

In conclusion, the first three weeks of December are evidence of a complex landscape for independent jewelers, marked by steadfast gross sales yet underlined by shifts in consumer buying behavior. 

As we move forward, understanding these nuanced changes will be crucial in strategizing for the upcoming year. 

It’s imperative to adapt to the evolving market, focusing on areas of growth and addressing the segments showing decline. 

With a strategic approach and an eye on market trends, the independent jeweler can navigate these fluctuations and position themselves for sustained success in the future.

Keep an eye out for my next column, where I will provide a comprehensive performance analysis for the entire month of December. 

Don’t miss this dive into the insights that will influence our strategies and understanding of the market as we head into 2024.

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