Last updateTue, 22 May 2018 10pm

Retailer Roundtable: What is your outlook for the industry in 2017?


Q:What is your outlook for the industry in 2017? 

“My outlook for the gem and jewelry industry in 2017 is positive. Here in Texas, it’s oil country and as long as oil stays above $50 per barrel, we’ll be in good shape down here. I believe another positive indicator is seeing the stock market continuing to go up. When the stock market goes up, so does consumer confidence. In just a few weeks after the election, we already see people feeling better about buying jewelry and other luxury items. People are glad the election is over and we can continue to make progress.  Again, we’re already seeing more optimism about buying jewelry and getting ready for the holiday season and the new year ahead.”

RR Steve

Steven Reiner, Vice President of Sales
Reiner’s Fine Jewelry
Houston, TX


“I’m very optimistic about the year ahead. For the last eight years, it’s been very difficult for small businesses, especially retail jewelers. Back in the early 1980s, there were 40,000 independent jewelers. Today that number is down to around 16,000. It’s obvious things have been difficult for retail jewelers and other small business owners. The incoming administration seems like it will be more open and responsive to the needs of small business with the promise of dropping America’s corporate tax rate from 35 percent down to 20 percent or even lower, according to early news reports. News reports also indicate that the incoming president will bring about policy changes that spread more disposable income around. With the passage of the Affordable Healthcare Act, people have had to make healthcare their number-one cost, with premiums and deductibles going through the roof. People can’t budget their disposable incomes for big purchases anymore because of healthcare costs. Also, this is an oil and gas area. If the pipeline opens, it will bring much-needed energy jobs here and to other parts of the country. Again, I’m quite confident changes are coming that will benefit small businesses.”

RR Tommy

Tommy Navarra, owner
Navarra’s Jewelry
Lake Charles, LA


“In the two weeks after the election we’ve had more people in the store than the entire month before the election. Hope blooms! Everybody just seems to have a better outlook. For the last eight years people have had to do more with less because of increases in health care costs. And, a lot of people have been holding on to their money because of so many unknowns surrounding the election. In looking back at the last eight years, I’ve instinctively known we could have been doing a lot better with our business. But now that there’s new leadership in the Oval Office, people are starting to spend money again on jewelry. Mobile, Alabama is Trump territory and people around here are glad he’s president. He came here as one of his stops after announcing his candidacy and has made repeat visits asking for our votes. And he got them. Now people have hope. And it’s not just me. Customers have been mentioning feelings of renewed hope in the store. I spoke to a contractor the other day who said business for him has noticeably picked up immediately after the election. I’m not a prophet by any means, but I do know hope when I hear it and see it. And based on what people are saying to me, 2017, and the years beyond, are going to be good years.”

RR Mary

Mary Hayes, owner
Hayes Jewelers
Mobile, AL


“I think sales will continue to be strong - at least for us. We serve an immediate market of 3,300 people in a small town, but serve a larger potential customer base of 50,000 to 60,000 as the store is located 200 miles north of Detroit. But no matter the city or town, jewelers will continue to do well based on how they’ve positioned themselves in their markets. For us, back in 2007, when the economy was starting to get bad, we decided to change our market position. Instead of focusing on messages of buying jewelry, sales, events and discounts, we decided to focus on life’s milestone moments celebrated with jewelry with stories and focus more on relationships with customers. We also host non-sales events and do things like send flowers at Thanksgiving to let our top customers know how much we appreciate their business. And, we’ve worked very hard to make sure people know that customer service and sales expertise makes us different from Big Box stores, chain stores and online sources. If you celebrate the customer, the sales will come. Also, jewelers can’t expect people to just show up and buy jewelry - especially during the holidays. You have to reach out to them and give customers a reason to come in. Another part of drawing people is our repair department. We’re not the cheapest, but we are the best. And other stores don’t offer this level of repair service.”

Eryn Collins, sales manager
Hogan’s Jewelers
Gaylord, MI


“We’re located in a farming community and right now agriculture is somewhat depressed with lower commodity prices. Cattle, corn and bean prices are all down, and that affects my customers and their discretionary income for jewelry purchases. So far it hasn’t been bad yet. In the first year many farmers anticipated the drop in commodity prices and saved aggressively for the hit. The second year of being affected by these drops has hit closer to home. In 2016 the number of sales have dropped, but we’ve had some big ticket sales to offset this. In looking ahead, if we’re level or down slightly in 2017, we can handle that. In 2017, I will be buying new merchandise but will do very cautious buying. As far as actual policy changes from the new administration, I don’t think those I’ve heard of will have a direct impact - negative or positive - on my business in 2017. I see 2017 as the year changes are implemented and 2018 as the year when we start seeing actual changes. And, in my mind, I think the changes will be for the better. One issue we’re watching is ethanol subsidies. Some want them dropped while others want to keep them. But again, I don’t see anything like this happening right away in 2017. I think 2018 will be the turnaround year for me and other jewelers around the country.”

RR McIntosh

Richard McIntosh, owner
McIntosh Jewelry
O’Neill, NE