||Jewelers Report Warm Summer Business
Typically, summer brings a slowdown in sales for retailers, with no large jewelry-gifting holidays on the horizon and many consumers retreating to vacation spots for a break.
This year, though, a number of jewelers report that sales have remained strong even as the mercury has begun to climb, with bridal as well as sales of fashion pieces buoyant.
Retailers also agree that while sales patterns used to be easy to forecast -- increasing the last two months of the year while staying fairly steady the other 10 -- it's difficult to predict when sales will rise, or fall, anymore.
National Jeweler interviewed independent retailers from five regions of the country: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, South Central and West.
Numbers are up for the first six months of the year at David Craig Jewelers in Langhorne, Pa., according to President David Rotenberg, although business in the summer slows down considerably at the store.
"We're doing better than usual," the jeweler said. "Our biggest down year was between 2007 and 2008, and every year since then we've been up."
Rotenberg said he's seen more bridal sales this summer.
"We're always busy preparing for what will be coming, so summer will be active with putting together plans and inventory," he said. "Sales-wise, I expect summer to be ahead of last year."
Business also has been good so far this summer at Evan James, Ltd. in Brattleboro, Vt., owner Evan James Deutsch said, although the season doesn't typically bring crowds.
"We're not really in a tourist area, and if it's 100 degrees like it was last week, who wants to come out and shop in that?" he said. "But I would say so far we're at or above expectations."
Deutsch said he expects business to slow down in July and August as more people take vacations. "But it's hard to gauge retail. We'll have to wait and see how it all shakes out."
This has been the busiest summer in the past three years at Allen's Jewelers in Albany, Ga., said owner Steve Allen.
"Things are pretty good. We're doing OK," he said. "It's been better than usual."
Allen said he's seen more engagement rings sold this summer than in previous years, with many customers continuing to request halo designs. He said he hopes business continues to be steady, although the community surrounding his store has been hit hard by the recession.
"Before three years ago, we were busy year-round. But when the economy tanked, everything did," Allen said. "There's been speculation it could get better because it's an election year. But it depends on who gets elected."
Gause & Son Jewelers in Ocala, Fla., is closing its second location and has been holding a sale for about two months. "The store that is closing has had good business," Manager Cammie McCloud said. "Our main location is also doing well, and the stores are only five miles apart. So considering one is closing, it's been steady."
McCloud said she anticipates a slower summer with consumers on vacation.
"I don't anticipate a huge July or August, but hopefully the fall will be good," she said. "With the election, there's a lot going on right now."
"So far this summer, we're doing surprisingly well," Gene Gragg, owner of Metal Works Fine Jewelry, Inc. in Yorktown, Ind., said. "I'm actually shocked at how well we’re doing."
The jeweler said business feels better than last year and is better for his custom work, which includes mostly gold pieces with colored stones and diamonds.
"Business will continue to be good if gas prices continue to go down," Gragg said. "It's psychological. If people save on gas, they have more money for other things. I think people are loosening their purse strings a bit."
Although summer is generally slower at Garfinkles Fine Jewelry in Highland Park, Ill., owner Jill Garfinkle said more people in the area want to buy now.
"To tell you the truth, I think people here were reluctant to spend money before, and after a while that reluctance kind of ebbed, and they're willing to spend now," she said.
A suburb of Chicago, Highland Park is not a touristy area but one of wealth, Garfinkle said.
"May and June were better for gift purchases, but customers are coming in, and they've been interested in everything," she said. "There's not one particular thing."
Still, the jeweler said of the coming months, "I don't know what to expect."
After a slow first quarter, business has picked up for Valerie Naifeh of Naifeh Fine Jewelry in Oklahoma City.
"I am thinking the summer is going to be good. I am thinking we are going to at least match our great numbers from last year," she said, noting that record-breaking heat then limited outdoor activity and might have pushed more people into shopping.
She said sales of bridal jewelry have been steady, as has self-purchasing by female customers and the sale of "push presents," gifts given to moms-to-be while they are expecting or shortly after their new baby arrives. Popular push presents include personalized pieces from Cordova, Temple St. Clair and Monica Rich Kosan.
"That's become a very big category for us," Naifeh said.
Mike Butterfield of Butterfield Jewelers reports that business at his New Mexico stores has been fair (Butterfield Jewelers opened a second store, also in Albuquerque, in March). He expects a slight increase in sales as compared to last year through the presidential election in November.
In bridal, he said customers are trading down in the quality of diamonds in order to obtain the same size -- generally 1 carat -- at their desired price point while sales of platinum have increased as the price gap between it and gold has narrowed.
When it comes to fashion jewelry, sales of bold silver pieces with gold accents are strong while Pandora has "cooled off" as a category, Butterfield said.
"I think Pandora's peaked," he said. "We're dropping a bit. We're just not seeing that mad rush we were before."
Retailers in the western United States also were optimistic about the coming months.
However, like other jewelers, Tom Hart, of Hart Jewelers in Grants Pass, Ore., said it is difficult to know what to expect anymore.
He said this is a trend that has persisted since the recession ended. Before the economic meltdown, sales figures at his store varied very little from month to month, except for the historically busy months of November and December. Now, sales rise and fall drastically throughout the year.
"I cannot forecast each month coming up. There's just no rhyme or reason on what month's going to be busy and what month isn't," he said.
He said after a slow April and May, business picked up in June. "Hopefully that continues," Hart said.
At Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler in Bellevue, Wash., Steve Goldfarb predicts it will be a good, though not great, summer. He said an improved economy likely will lead to sales of trendier jewelry, just as it has in clothing, where women have gravitated away from the classics to indulge in trendy lime green and bright pink jeans.
"I think it might be a little bit more fun, (with) shoulder-length earrings and colorful necklaces," Goldfarb said, noting these are trends he saw at recent trade shows.
"I am a big believer that if you see things (at trade shows) you know they'll be advertising them and putting them in magazines," he said. "That will help to drive people's awareness."
Hart said trendier pieces always do well at his store in the summer because of the tourists that gravitate to Grants Pass and want a unique piece with which to return home. "We do (sell) more of that type of thing during the summer, because we are a popular area for tourism," he said.
(Source: National Jeweler, 06/26/12)
Click here to email to client
Back to Radio Sales Today
Click here to view Job Postings.
Upcoming Webinar: Social Media Revolution and Revenue
Discover exciting new ways that radio can generate revenue from social media when you sign up for this information-filled presentation featuring Lori Lewis, Digital & Social Media Strategist at Jacobs Media, and RAB's John Potter.
They will discuss social media ideas you can sell to your clients, effective techniques that produce the best advertiser results, and how to use the top social media sites to your advantage.
This webinar will be offered twice -- on Tuesday, July 10, at 3 PM (Central), and again on Thursday, July 12, at 10 AM (Central). For registration information, click here.