Merrick, NY—Luxury jewelers have a lot more to smile about this year than last. 63% of respondents to the Centurion Holiday Sales Success Index reported their holiday season was much stronger this year than last year—and 68% of respondents reported their total year sales were up as well.
In a survey conducted December 26, 32.5% of respondents said their holiday season sales grew substantially—more than 10% over last year’s figures. 12.5% reported sales gains between 6% and 10%, and 17.5% reported more modest holiday gains between 1% and 5%.
Still, not every jeweler had a robust holiday. 20% of respondents saw sales fall off significantly (>10%) and 15% reported sales were down anywhere from 1% to 10% from last year’s figures.
Bucking the trend toward last-minute sales, twice as many jewelers reported a strong early season than reported stronger sales later in the season or at the last minute. 14% said sales and traffic remained steady throughout the entire season.
How Were Total Holiday Season Sales For 2016 Vs. 2015?
For the majority of respondents, best-selling price points remained on the low to middle end of the spectrum: the majority reported strength in two key price points: under $500 or between $2,501 and $5,000. 41% said prices between $501 and $1,000 were the best sellers, compared with 44% who reported the sweet spot between $2,501 and $5,000.
“Mostly it was a $500 -$2,500 season, with a few big Rolex and large solitaire sales,” said one Florida jeweler. Another Florida jeweler said diamond studs and yellow diamonds sold well. “We went through two trays of studs, all one carat total weight and larger.”
“Bridal raised the average; without that [the average sale] was around $450, said another jeweler in Wisconsin.
28% cited their best sellers were mostly between $1,001 and $2,500. 10% of respondents reported the majority of their tickets coming in the $5,001 to $10,000 range, and a lucky 13% reported their strongest-selling category was for goods above $10,000.
When asked about their biggest individual sales, Still, there were big spenders out there: roughly one-third of respondents (32.4%) reported their top sales were pieces priced over $10,000, and 16% reported sales over $100,000—with 5% saying their top sales were more than $300,000. Not surprisingly, these big sales typically were diamonds, including yellow diamonds. But among any other stones, sapphires were the most popular for high-ticket sales.
What Were Your Best-Selling Price Points This Holiday Season?
Diamonds—both bridal and fashion—remained the top selling product category for all jewelers, not just high-ticket sales. 44% of respondents named diamonds among their top three best-selling items. Branded jewelry performed well this year—with a noticeable drop-off in jewelers citing custom orders this year compared with previous years.
In terms of brands cited by respondents as top movers, Rolex led in first place with 18% of jewelers listing the brand among their best-sellers. 12.5% of respondents each named Pandora and Hearts On Fire among their top-selling brands, and 9% did well with Marco Bicego and David Yurman. 6% cited Vahan, Henderson, Simon G., and Roberto Coin as favored brands. A few other brands also called out as top sellers included Forevermark, Lagos, Gurhan, ALOR, Beverley K, Unhada, Yael, Konstantino, Elizabeth Locke, Les Georgettes, and Lika Behar.
Who was buying? For the majority of respondents (62.5%), it was predominantly longtime good customers, but encouragingly, more than half (52.5%) said the majority of their sales came from new customers. More than one-third (37.5%) said customers they hadn’t seen in a long time came back this year to buy, another encouraging economic sign. By age, Boomers still edged out Millennials as the primary purchasers of luxury jewelry.
Lastly, the strong holiday season capped off a strong year overall for the majority of respondents. In total, 68% reported their total year was up from 2015. For almost one-fourth (24%), it was up by double digits, and for another 24%, it was up between 6% and 10%. But there were pockets of the country where business was a challenge: about 22% of respondents said 2016 was down from 2015--and for more than 17%, those declines were fairly significant. Jewelers cited a variety of factors impacting business: most notably the rancorous presidential election, but also downturns in energy-producing areas, bad weather, and local issues like road construction impeding access to their stores.
Editor's note: Figures were reported as of press time; any significant changes will be reported in next week's edition.