What And How Better Jewelers Are Selling In The Pandemic
Merrick, NY—While the majority of America’s jewelry stores are closed for the time being, some jewelers are finding unique ways to connect with their customers. In a special survey of better jewelers, The Centurion asked jewelers about their business and their outlook during this unprecedented time. Last week we reported our findings on jewelers' attitudes; this week, we examine what they're still selling and how they’re doing it.
For most jewelers, the best way to keep in touch with customers is the old fashioned way: by telephone. Almost 59% said they’re using the phone to conduct business, but it doesn’t mean they’re stuck in the past: 55% are using social media marketing and/or sales and 51% are using text, FaceTime or other forms of videoconferencing. Once sales do occur, the majority of respondents are shipping the purchase to customers but a good 41% are delivering the purchase to the customer’s house.
It’s not unusual for customers to want to wait as well. “One engagement ring, paid for, is sitting in the safe along with dozens of repairs. They prefer to wait until post plague,” says one respondent.
A few jewelers are still selling online, but the sales are either very small or quickly petered out. Others are newly trying online sales, such as one that typically doesn’t do e-commerce but decided to test market with about 28 pieces, but no store has reported robust sales online.
Not surprisingly, most are not doing business at all, and there are a not-insignificant number of jewelers who feel this is simply not the time to be asking people to buy jewelry. “Now is not the time to call or send emails,” stressed one Midwestern respondent. “Customers are concerned about not getting sick and keeping a job or business!”
How Are You Conducting Business Now? Check All That Apply.
Jewelers were asked to indicated what they're doing to keep in touch with customers and/or sell. Note: the first two responses (green and blue bars) are "dramatic increase in online business," and "somewhat increased online business." Totals exceed 100% because respondents were asked to choose as many answers as applicable.
For those jewelers still doing business, the majority report it’s mostly small gifts or pick-me-up items, a much lower ticket than they’re used to. (Top: Constellation elongated drop earrings by Martha Seely feature tanzanite, sapphire, and diamond in sterling silver). Almost one-fourth (23%) of respondents said that’s mainly what they’re selling now. 14.5% are still selling a fair bit of bridal through the pandemic—not counting those who already had special-order engagement rings already in the works or in the safe.
17% of respondents say the only customer interactions they’re having is for picking up special orders already in process, or repairs or other service requests.
“Jewelry is not anybody’s priority right now,” says one Florida-based jeweler bluntly.
While it’s obviously not a priority for many, a few customers haven’t entirely slammed their wallets closed during this crisis. 4% of respondents each said they’re selling diamond studs and fashion pieces; or watches, especially Rolex or other new releases, or high-end anniversary gifts and special orders that are new since the pandemic began.
SPS: Silver Jewelry Sales Strong In 2019
New York, NY—Silver jewelry sales in the United States were strong in 2019. According to a survey commissioned by the Silver Promotion Service, 59% of jewelry retailers reported increased year-on-year sales and confirmed that silver jewelry continues to be a leading merchandise category for both driving sales and providing margin.
Survey highlights include:
- 55% of respondents said silver jewelry experienced the best inventory turnover rate in 2019, compared to 22% who cited diamonds, 13% who said gold, and 10% who said bridal.
- Silver jewelry sales, as a percentage of retailers’ overall jewelry sales, averaged 29% of their unit volume and 21% of their dollar volume.
- Average store growth in 2019 for silver jewelry sales was 12%.
- 54% of retailers said that they increased their silver jewelry inventory in 2019.
- The age group buying the most silver jewelry is 20-40, say 2/3 of respondents.
- 91% of retailers said they are optimistic that silver jewelry sales will continue to grow (Editor’s note: the study, conducted by INSTORE magazine for SPS, was fielded in February of 2020, before the current coronavirus pandemic forced shutdowns of most jewelry stores nationwide.)