Last updateWed, 11 Jul 2018 7am

The SJG Smart Business Report


Sponsored content from the Southern Jewelers Guild

 “I’m trying to get into the holiday spirit, but the darn bottle won’t open!” ~ Anonymous

According to a recent report from MoneyWatch, consumers appear to be in a buying mood as we head into the critical holiday shopping season.  Unemployment is holding at a 16-year low, and the stock market is continuing its rally.  But it seems as though the battered retail industry is still struggling to adjust itself to the growth of online shopping.

Estimates for consumer spending between November 2017 and January 2018 are hovering between $1.04 trillion and $1.05 trillion on a seasonally adjusted basis. This excludes motor vehicles and gasoline, according to a forecast released by Deloitte late in September.

Those figures represent a net gain of 4 - 4.5% over sales for 2016, a year that some major chains, including Macy’s, Target and JC Penney described as disappointing.

Online sales continue to be a bright spot in the retail sector, despite the fact that most transactions still take place in a brick and mortar store.  A report just released by Deloitte forecasts online sales between $111 billion and $114 billion for the 2017 holiday season, which is an increase of 18-21% over 2016.  Year over year, 2016 saw a 14.3% increase over online sales in 2015.

Generally, retailers I have been speaking with are optimistic heading into the upcoming holiday season.  Sales across the board appear to be steady, and the retailers who deal primarily in custom goods, or who offer a unique gemstone selection, service or speciality seem to be the ones who are thriving.  Savvy retailers are positioning themselves away from branded goods that can be price shopped or matched online, and are making a name and a niche for themselves with goods that are personalized for their clientele and their market.

If you’re looking for a new idea to position your store within your local market this holiday season, here are a few thoughts to get you started:

#1) Download and read the National Retail Federation’s 2017 Retail Holiday Planning Playbook. The 2017 Holiday Planning Playbook is the retail guide for understanding key lessons from the 2016 season, along with insight into how the consumer’s ever-evolving path to purchase will impact the upcoming holiday season. To help retailers prepare for the 2017 holidays, NRF surveyed over 2,000 holiday shoppers to understand their experiences and behavior during the 2016 season and what they expect from retailers moving forward. This guide contains data highlighting consumer expectations as well as suggestions for retailers to consider when planning for the season. You’ll find it online at: https://nrf.com/resources/retail-library/2017-retail-holiday-planning-playbook

Survey highlights

  • Get on the list: Only a quarter of respondents said they used online wish lists and registries from retailers in 2016, but more than six in 10 would like to use more online wish lists in the future.
  • Know that consumers have the holidays in mind long before the first snow: The holiday season starts ahead of Black Friday, with more than half of holiday shoppers starting to research and plan their gifts in October or earlier - before they start committing to actual purchases.
  • Understand how to save the sale: Consumers may be entering the holidays armed with more information, but that doesn’t mean their minds are completely made up. Nine in 10 holiday shoppers said something convinced them to make a purchase they may have been hesitant about; more than half purchased an item that was recommended to them by the retailer online.

#2)  Many retailers tend to see an uptick in over-the-counter gold buying during the holiday season. In addition, gold jewelry items such as chains, bracelets and earrings are staples of gift-giving. Seasonal sales also mean more repair and custom work. With so much business centered around gold products, it makes sense to add a tool to your business that will help you manage buying, selling and ordering more efficiently. United Precious Metals Refining recently published an app that all types of customers will find useful.

Whether you want to schedule refining lot pickups, check on live precious metal prices, calculate the value of your scrap gold, or find the right product for your casting, fabrication, or soldering needs, you will love having this app just a tap away.

The UPMR app is currently available for FREE (and without any ads) for the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android devices.

Main features

  • Check live precious metal spot prices.
  • Schedule scrap lots for pickup and refining.
  • Browse United’s catalog of ready-to-use grains, master alloys for casting or fabrication, cadmium-free solders and solder master alloys.
  • Estimate value of scrap gold based on market price, karat and average assay percentages.
  • Mobile chat support from traders, technical support, customer service, and refining.
  • “What’s New” section to keep you on top of new products, events, etc.

 Visit the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to download the UPMR app for your device.

#3)  A while back, Facebook released a “Lifestyle” report in which it compiled data from more than 2.5 million users in an effort to uncover some of the patterns, if any, associated with engagements.

In addition to the most common days to get engaged (or, at least, the most common days to announce an engagement on Facebook), the site found that one-third of people get engaged between November and December, and the average age of newly engaged couples is 24.

According to the study, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day are the most popular days to get engaged.

With that in mind, now is the time to prepare for holiday-driven diamond sales and the ton of custom work that comes with them, and I know Amit Shah at Diamonds by Sejal will help you sell plenty of “sparkle and shine,” during the holiday season. Diamonds by Sejal provides 18 different grades of diamonds in each size, and specializes in precision-cut small diamonds, especially for diamonds below .02 points. Not only do they offer the largest selection I have ever seen in white melee, but they also have an extensive range of options for colored melee as well. If your customers want “bling” and you want your cash register to “ring” then reach out to my friend Amit and ask him to fill all your melee diamond needs this year. You can reach Amit at 201-952-5504.

Have some thoughts or questions about getting prepared for the holiday season that you’d like to share with me? I’d love to hear your comments on this subject. E-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call me at 504-615-1191 today.