||Sales Report: For Mom, It Was Diamonds, Silver
Mother's Day sales were flat or up for the majority of retailers interviewed by National Jeweler, with jewelers ringing up a significant number of diamond sales alongside silver pieces and Pandora, both staples for the May holiday.
Beads from Pandora got more mention as top Mother's Day sellers than any other item, followed by diamond stud earrings -- one jeweler noted that his store actually sold out of studs, which usually only happens at Christmas -- silver jewelry and pearl pieces.
Though a few jewelers said that Mother's Day sales were slow, noting that the holiday has fizzled or never was strong at their store, overall, retailers' experience seemed to dovetail with National Retail Federation predictions. The NRF forecasted that one-third of consumers would choose jewelry for mom this Mother's Day and spend a total of 14 percent more than they did last year.
National Jeweler publishes sales roundups during the months of November and December and for key jewelry-gifting holidays throughout the year. The roundups are compiled using interviews with independent retailers from five regions of the country: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, South Central and West.
In this region of the country, retailers reported a significant increase in foot traffic and sales for Mother's Day.
Daniel Niebauer of Ralph Miller Jewelers & Gallery in Erie, Pa. said foot traffic and sales at the store were up 10 to 12 percent year-over-year. He said the store sold diamonds, colored goods and "lots of little items," such as $100 silver pendants, rings and earrings.
The store used its normal methods of advertising, television, radio and social media, and even repeated last year's promotional Mother's Day tagline, "She's worth it."
So, is it a better economy bringing people into the store? Niebauer said maybe but, more likely, it was the weather.
"Here, the weather broke a little bit last week and the week before. We actually got some temperatures in the 70s. That got some traffic (in the store) at lunchtime," he said. "It really helped."
At Evan James Ltd., owner Evan James Deutsch said his store experienced its best Mother's Day in 10 years, with foot traffic and sales more than doubling as compared with last year.
"A lot of it has to do with Alex and Ani, which we didn't have last year," he said. "We knew it was going to be a better Mother's Day because we had Alex and Ani but we didn't know it was going to be as good as it was."
He said the line, which is very inexpensive fashion jewelry, attracted customers, some of whom then bought small diamond hearts in gold. Silver also was "hot," particularly for pieces priced at $100 and less.
"I don't know what it was," Deutsch said when asked about the increase in Mother's Day spending on jewelry. "I think it was just having the right merchandise at the right price points."
At Allen's Jewelers in Albany, Ga., owner Steve Allen said Mother's Day sales were up significantly as compared with last year due to a couple of unexpected large sales, including a sizable pair of diamond earrings and an emerald ring.
The store also did well with Pandora, pearl earrings and silver pieces from Gabriel & Co. and Vahan Jewelry.
"It was good. We did really well," Allen said. "Maybe everybody feels like the economy is starting to turn and they're a little more optimistic."
Michael Zibman, general manager at Windsor Jewelers in Augusta, Ga., said foot traffic and sales were equal to what the store experienced last Mother's Day.
"It was good but not extraordinary," he said. "But the month will be good and I was reasonably pleased."
He said Pandora was "off the charts" in terms of foot traffic. At the Pandora concept store Windsor Jewelers operates at a nearby mall, they had a line out the door, literally.
Zibman said an employee had to wait outside the store and let people in when other customers left because there simply wasn't any room in the store. And some of the customers ended up spilling over into the main Windsor Jewelers store, purchasing their Pandora there instead.
"It doesn't matter to us. Everybody's happy," he said. "The mall store probably had a 30 percent increase (in sales)."
Mother's Day sales were "fair" at Garfinkles Fine Jewelry in Highland Park, Ill., owner Jill Garfinkle said. Traffic was about the same as in years past, but there were fewer purchases.
"I have no idea why it was slower. I did a little advertising beforehand, taking out one local newspaper ad for Mother's Day bracelets, but no one came in for them. The bracelets I did sell weren't because of the ad."
Garfinkle said she also emailed the ad to customers, which did garner some responses.
"One person came in and bought a nice ring and earrings, mixed metal. There were no diamond purchases. Mother's Day used to be big, but it isn't anymore," she said, adding that it may be due to the economy.
The jeweler said she plans to hold a Mother's Day sale next year to entice customers to buy.
Mother's Day was "very slow" at James Alperin Jewelers in Pepper Pike, Ohio, but owner James Alperin seems to have an idea as of why.
"Mother's Day has never been that important to us. We're more of an upscale store, although we carry all the price points, people still tend to think of us as expensive. So for Mother's Day, they want to buy flowers, candy, something less expensive, which has been my findings," he said.
Alperin said a few years back, around Christmas, he ran an ad for a sterling silver and diamond bracelet that sold very well, retailing for around $150. When Valentine's Day approached a few months later, he decided to run the ad again.
"The only thing that changed was the holiday. What we determined what that what makes a good gift for Christmas, made a very expensive Valentine's Day gift. People wanted roses, or to spend $25 or $50, not $150. So that's how I relate jewelry buying to Mother's Day -- I don't think people want to buy a serious piece of jewelry during that time," he said.
Alperin also said with high prices at the gas stations, grocery stores and other "necessary" retailers, "People just don't want to spend that kind of money all the time. Everything is expensive."
Diamond and silver pieces made up the majority of Mother's Day sales at Newton's Jewelers in Fort Smith, Ark.
"The whole month has been busy so far, but we sold for Mother's Day for sure," owner Kelly Newton said, adding that traffic and sales were about the same as last year.
Advertising-wise, Newton ran a Rolex radio ad, which he said did bring people in and resulted in Rolex sales. Whether those were specifically for Mother's Day, he is unsure.
What he is sure of is that diamonds and silver were the go-to purchases for mom.
"We sold out of diamond stud earrings, which usually only happens at Christmastime. We sold silver Vahan pieces, silver Jude Frances pieces, and some diamond pieces, all for Mother's Day," he said. "People were spending from $250 to $7,000 or $8,000. It was all over the place."
Silver is an everyday seller, Newton added.
Diamond solitaire earrings also were a Mother's Day hit at Stanley Jewelers Gemologist in North Little Rock, Ark., Laura Stanley said.
"We were pushing solitaire earrings for about six weeks and we sold a half-dozen pairs last week, so it was good that it came together for Mother's Day,” she said, adding that other diamond jewelry, including pendants, sold.
Overall sales for Mother's Day at the store were "very good," with Friday and Saturday bringing in the most sales for the holiday, Stanley said. Pearl jewelry was popular, including pearl stud earrings and silver pieces incorporating pearls, like a bracelet or necklace with a pearl drop.
"Not expensive stuff, but pearls were big," she said.
Customers spent between $400 and $600 for Mother’s Day, which is normal, Stanley said.
As for advertising, the store emailed customers to remind them of the impending holiday, which, Stanley said, "seemed to work."
Silver fashion jewelry topped Mother's Day purchases at Hart Jewelers in Grants Pass, Ore., owner Tom Hart said.
"Customers weren't buying anything in particular, no large purchases. There were some diamond earrings and fashion-type jewelry, silver. Price points were under $1,000, nothing major," he said.
This Mother's Day was in line with last year's, Hart said. Although he decided not to advertise for it, he did hold a private event at the store a week before with a gemstone dealer.
"Most of the purchases for the event were self-purchases, but there were still some people that could have been there for Mother's Day. We hadn't done it before and we were quite pleased; it's something to build on for the future," Hart said.
Pandora was a huge Mother's Day hit at Fox Fine Jewelry in Ventura, Calif., owner Debbie Fox said.
"It went great! Guys will sometimes buy the Pandora full-on, already loaded bracelets, but mostly people want something that signifies their mother charm-wise," she said.
The line presents an opportunity to make a Pandora customer a customer of your jewelry store, Fox said, but "The challenge is to bring them over."
The jeweler's average Pandora transactions for the day ranged around $100, but she noted a few $500 sales, and some that were $40 to $50.
For other jewelry, price points were slightly, but not significantly, higher.
"Mother's Day is lower price points. Some people will spend a few hundred, but the average is around $120," she said. "Everyone thought Pandora was gone, but it's not."
(Source: National Jeweler, 05/15/13)
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