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On Data: Sales Show Continued Improvement in July

ColumnistsAug 04, 2020

On Data: Sales Show Continued Improvement in July

Following a “dismal” April and a “bleak” May, Sherry Smith notes that independent jewelers’ sales have warmed up recently, particularly in this one category.

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 Smithis director of business development for data and consulting company The Edge Retail Academy.
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