Q: How was your Christmas season and what were your hot sellers?
“The actual numbers are still being tabulated, but what I can say is the numbers are close to 10 percent over last year’s holiday season. Which was quite a surprise as the months and weeks leading up to the holiday season were very quiet. But after the presidential election people started spending money. We have a great clientele and sold some very special high-end pieces, one notable piece was a pink diamond bracelet. For 30 years we’ve been holding a 30 percent off sale that runs the length of the holiday shopping season, from Thanksgiving Day weekend through Christmas Eve. The event still attracts a lot of customers and every year we invite vendors for at least one trunk show, which was held December 9-10 this year. Our average bridal sales range from $7,500 to $15,000. Holiday bridal sales comfortably fell in this range with a lot of diamond-set rings with accents being sold – about 90 percent of designs. Halo rings were a close second and solitaire bridal a distant third. We also did well with watches. We carry a number of brands and have about 700 to 800 watches in the store. The better selling brands for us were Seiko, Citizen, Movado and Victorinox Swiss Army watches. Chronograph sports models sold very well for us, especially with designs leading up to the $1,000 mark. The Eco Drive from Citizen was especially popular. Bread-and-butter diamond jewelry performed well with the exception of tennis bracelets. Don’t know why. They just didn’t sell – and we’re a big [diamond] bracelet store. We sold some nice sized solitaire diamond earrings and diamond halo and solitaire pendants sold well. Another surprise was sapphire and ruby jewelry. Average sales prices for mainly rings ranged from $2,500 to $6,500.”
Ronnie Adolf, owner
“It was definitely a good holiday season for us. We haven’t crunched the official numbers yet, but even with PANDORA pulling out in October, Christmas 2016 was better than the previous year’s holiday sales season. With PANDORA gone we tried to service those customers as best we could early in the fourth quarter. For customers that came in during the holiday we only referred a small percentage to other PANDORA outlets. We were able to convert a lot of these customers on other jewelry, namely two-stone Together Rings. White gold was the popular choice overall with sales doing well in the ½-, ¾- and 1-carat sizes. We also did very well with pendants. Again, white metals – white gold and sterling silver – sold better with younger customers over yellow gold. Popular designs were heart pendants, traditional crosses and sideways crosses, and diamond Heartbeat necklaces – the diamond pendants with the diamond that moves in the middle. Of these designs crosses performed best in a variety of price points. The big surprise for us was fantastic sales with Citizen watches. We sold some quartz and battery models based on price points, but many of our millennial customers wanted the Eco Drive. Men’s watch sales outperformed ladies’ watch sales. To attract sales from online vendors we discounted watches by 25 percent and offered after-sales services, which got the attention of many buyers. Billboards helped get the word out.”
Freda Gibbs, co-owner
“We had an extraordinary Christmas – our second best in the company’s 48-year history. We kicked off the holiday season with some challenges as PANDORA ended our eight-year relationship in September. It took some creative selling to get these customers to remain loyal with us. We explained that PANDORA had closed 700 independent stores and then proceeded to show them alternatives such as Alex & Ani and Swarovski. While the number of shoppers was down this holiday season, our average sale more than doubled. Engagement rings and loose diamonds were in high demand. Marketing wise, we introduced an e-commerce experience on our website that showcases most of the products available in our brick and mortar store and sent out a beautiful traditional Christmas catalog and gift card offer. Print still works. It certainly helped generate interest and sales. Once again, TACORI was our strongest performer. Hearts On Fire also saw a record increase this year and Alex & Ani continues to drive massive foot traffic through our doors. This Christmas was our first season selling Shinola. We discovered a great connection between our Midwest customers and the Shinola watch brand story. Finally, we were honored to be selected as one of six retailers in the US to test market DIAMA, a created diamond collection by Swarovski. As a former Instructor of Gemology (GIA), I’ve been following the evolution of lab-created diamonds for 25 years. It’s finally here to share with consumers. What an exciting opportunity!”
Craig Husar, Chief Romance Officer
Lyle Husar Designs
“Christmas was disappointing for us. It started off strong, from Black Friday to December 12 we were very busy. Then it got real quiet real fast. Things picked up a week or so later, but then it was on again, off again with busy store traffic. Customers got crazier and more demanding the closer we got to Christmas, looking at expensive high-end pieces of jewelry and making outrageously low offers. From what I can tell, our story wasn’t unique and that retail jewelry sales across the country were soft. There was no one real product category that people were after. Tastes and purchases were across the board, so we had to do our best to merchandise for the holidays. When things were going well at the start of the Christmas season bridal sales averaged $5,600 on up. But we did find people dropping down in center diamond carat weights to stay within budget, some dropping down to a half-carat center diamond for an engagement ring. For our store people were very budget conscious. Thank goodness the custom work in the months leading up to the holiday season was good. We were busy putting the final touches on many custom pieces right up until Christmas. Average ticket prices were very good this year on custom with our top sale a $30,000 piece, and our lowest custom piece priced around $2,000. Looking ahead, I hope with a regime change [US president] people will feel more confident in the economy and will be willing to spend more on jewelry. We’ll see where 2017 takes us with new leadership at the helm.”
David Rotenberg, owner
David Craig Jewelers
“It was a good holiday season for our store and for the Galleria, the upscale lifestyle shopping mall where we’re located. The owners of the Galleria have planned and worked hard to open three new stores in the fourth quarter of 2016 that would bring in younger, millennial-age shoppers, namely Tory Burch, Free People and Vineyard Vines – all high-end clothing stores. Although the Galleria has roughly 70 shops that bring in a wide range of shoppers, these three new stores have definitely brought in a noticeable number of younger people. For us, this has translated into more diamond and bridal sales. In the lead up to and through the holiday season, we’ve seen increased interest in yellow gold jewelry across the board – earrings, rings, necklaces and bracelets. This is part of the mixing precious metal colors trend as people are getting away from wearing only one jewelry color. We also saw interest in finer, one-of-a-kind colored stone jewelry, namely finer sapphire and blue zircon jewelry.”
Scott Rudd, owner
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