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The Centurion 2016 Holiday Success Index, Week Four: Still Strong, A Few Bumps |  December 21, 2016 (0 comments)

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Merrick, NY—The strong uptick in holiday sales for better jewelers continued last week, but some stores were impacted by poor weather. For the week of December 11-18, 48% of respondents to the Centurion Holiday Sales Success Index survey reported increased sales over the same period last year, and of those, almost one-fourth of respondents (23%) said their sales for the period grew more than 10% over last year’s figures. 18% reported increases between 6% and 10% year on year, and 9% reported modest increases of 1% to 5%. Another 9% remained flat with last year’s results for the week.

But Decima, the major winter storm that impacted much of the country last week and weekend, lived up to her name and decimated sales for some jewelers. “Horrible weather. Extreme cold with rain and ice. Then snow, then more ice. And more cold. Killed our week,” said one New England jeweler.

In total, almost 43% of respondents saw year on year sales dip for the week, again with almost one-fourth of respondents saying the drop was significant. 14% saw a mild dip of 1% to 5%, and 5% saw a moderate drop between 6% and 10%.

But spirits are still bright, even for those jewelers that were impacted by the storm. “We have had extremely cold weather that has kept people from coming out to shop, but leading up to the 15th we were slightly ahead of last year,” said a jeweler in Wisconsin. But this jeweler, and many others, are anticipating a solid week this week, especially with the extra Saturday shopping day on Christmas Eve.

“Sales for December are up 24% year over year with a big week to go and lots of customers who we haven’t seen yet. We are up 29% for the entire year,” said a jeweler in Florida.

The fourth week of the holiday 2016 season shows continued sales gains for the majority of jewelers, but a noticeable impact from a major winter storm over last weekend.

Reinforcing the conventional wisdom that the big spenders come out later, this week’s survey showed the exact opposite shopping pattern from last week. Then, the trend was for increased foot traffic and a higher volume of lower-ticket sales pushing respondents’ numbers up. This time, respondents reported fewer unit sales but higher tickets per sale pushing numbers up. One jeweler in upstate New York even cut back store hours this year and still is posting solid sales gains.

In the more general retail picture, sales have been solid but not spectacular, says this report in Women’s Wear Daily. Online sales were responsible for the majority of sales growth last week, as jewelers weren’t the only ones impacted by the poor weather.

The Centurion survey asked jewelers to identify their most successful strategy or best idea for building sales this season. Most turned to tried-and-true tactics, such as high-end vendor and designer trunk shows for select client groups, in-store parties, and lots of telephone outreach to top clients and those with wish lists. About one-third turned to digital as a helpmate. “Lots of social media with video gift guides and images of beautiful jewelry,” said a jeweler in Oklahoma. The strategy paid off, as the informational and elegant approach worked well against a competitor running a sale advertising up to 70% off.

Online and in-store specials and promotions for specific products helped drive traffic for a few jewelers, and getting the sales team energized—both figuratively and literally—with $5 Starbucks gift cards as a reward for every $2,000 sold is working well for one jeweler. “Sell a $6,000 item and get three $5 cards. It’s fun and it works!”

Finally, the most important thing to do is maintain your visibility all year long, say respondents. Whether it’s being active in charity circles to get the store name out in front of the right people in the community who are likely to become clients, or always being known for adding personal touches, those jewelers that are actively promoting their business all the time are the ones that reap the biggest rewards during the holidays.

Top image: Dreamstime.com

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