It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Here’s How To Make Sure It ContinuesDecember 02, 2020 (0 comments)
Encinitas, CA—2020 has been anything but predictable. Who would have imagined as the world entered this pandemic back in February, 9 months ago now, causing growing concerns, lockdowns and unimaginable death tolls, that the jewelry industry would be performing BETTER than it does in a normal year?
What we have learned, what we should do, and how we should plan. Even after store temporary closings—which averaged six weeks—but most jewelry retailers have made up for most of the downtime. November was a particular challenge, between going up against trunk show sales numbers from last year and of course the election frenzy was a distraction. Nonetheless, the positive uptick in sales is a testament to the flexibility and resilience of our industry, and the traditional value that consumers associate jewelry with love.
We have confidence that with proper management, you will be in a good place by the end of the year. It is a critical time stamp for you to have your finances in order, and begin your plan for next year—which will look very different than 2020.
What have we learned? There are several takeaways that we can say with confidence:
- Love remains true, and through difficult times people want to express their love as best they can. We have seen this in the tremendous uptick of bridal sales during this time.
- Consumers WANT to shop local. More than ever, as the threat of independent store closings looms, communities are realizing that these stores are important to their towns.
- Lastly, we learned how important it is to establish a “rainy-day fund.” Too many advisors talked about the need for a rainy-day fund when it was too late to do anything about it. Jewelers found themselves facing what would have been disastrous financial straits were it not for the PPP and EIDL programs, with resounding admonitions of, “You should have had a rainy-day fund.” This clearly only added more stress to an exceedingly difficult time.
What we should do now? The holiday season is upon us but it’s not too late to enact some key strategies:
- Reach out to your customers in a personal way if you have not already done so. This year has clearly put an emphasis on personal relationships. Being the jeweler your customers trust and having a suggested gift for the season is invaluable service they cannot get at a chain store.
- Do not lose hope of in-store sales. Although the media is reporting record high online sales, there is still more than enough spending power for you to have an amazing December.
- Capitalize on the “Shop Local” trend and remind customers of what your in-person service has to offer that they cannot get from an online purchase from a major e-tailer. Make sure your own website is in top-notch form and continue with private appointments, curbside pickup, and other things to reassure your customers that your store is safe and you take their concerns seriously.
- Keep yourself and your staff healthy. It is not the time to let up on healthy protocol! You must remind your staff of the repercussions of COVID running through your store, and having to shut your doors the week before Christmas. This is not to incite fear, but it is a very real possibility and needs to be emphasized while you can get in front of it. If you have let up on the temperature taking and hand washing, reinstate these precautions stronger than ever before.
How do we plan for the future? The world is grateful for a vaccine in record-breaking time, yet we should consider what that means to our industry:
- Start that rainy-day fund! Your finances should be in good shape and you should owe very little to your suppliers. Open a new account if necessary and put away a portion of your December sales for next year (you are going to need them).
- Realize that this year has been the year our biggest competition, travel, has been eliminated. The vaccine will bring that competition back with a huge amount of pent up demand.
- Anticipate this year to be the year for record sales because travel is most certainly going to create a dip in jewelry sales.
Enjoy this season. It is truly the most wonderful time of the year, especially when we see all the plans that have been made and remade come to fruition. This should be an exceptional December! Do not let anyone leave your store empty handed. Know when they come into your store, they set aside whatever fears or concerns they may have to come see you. Treat every customer with a new enthusiasm of helping them make 2020 memorable in a special way and commemorating it with a beautiful piece of jewelry that will last forever.
Dan and Lori Askew of Vantage Group strategically examine each area of business and address concerns efficiently to make the greatest impact on cash flow, merchandise planning, inventory control, advertising, and store management. www.VantageGroupinfo.com