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Padgett elected President of NC Jewelers Association

Padgett elected President of NC Jewelers Association

The North Carolina Jewelers Association (NCJA) ann...

Schnack’s Fine Jewelry turns 150

Schnack’s Fine Jewelry turns 150

Not many jewelry retailers can say their store ope...

From Vicenza with Love: At Oro International, Italian family values shine

From Vicenza with Love: At Oro International, Italian family values shine

Fifty years ago, Qurino Ruzza, with 20 years as a ...

Mason-Kay Jade to make Atlanta Jewelry Show debut

Mason-Kay Jade to make Atlanta Jewelry Show debut

Mason-Kay Jade has been a leading fine jade jewelr...

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Ancient trade route shows gold's enduring power

Ancient trade route shows gold's enduring power

Researchers at the University of Southampton have found a prehistoric gold trade route between Ireland and southwest England. The route gives a glimps...

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Jewelers Mutual presents honors at National Sale Conference

Jewelers Mutual presents honors at National Sale Conference

(NEENAH, Wis.) - Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company recognized its top agencies and agents during the annual awards ceremony held at their National Sale...

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Ancient trade route shows gold's enduring power

3 DAYS AGO
Ancient trade route shows gold's enduring power

Researchers at the University of Southampton have found a prehistoric gold trade route between Ireland and southwest England. The route gives a glimpse into how ancient cultures regarded gold.

A new study has shed more light on how the value of gold has endured – and changed – since ancient times.

Arc...

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Colorado woman finds 8.52 carat diamond in Arkansas state park

3 DAYS AGO
Colorado woman finds 8.52 carat diamond in Arkansas state park

MURFREESBORO, Ark. –  An 8.52 carat diamond has been found by a Colorado woman at Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds State Park at Murfreesboro.

Park officials said Friday that the gem found by Bobbie Oskarson of Longmont, Colorado, is the fifth largest diamond found since the park was established in 1972....

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From Jewels to Tools: Ivan Levi to speak on enhancing business practices at RJO Show in August

4 DAYS AGO
From Jewels to Tools: Ivan Levi to speak on enhancing business practices at RJO Show in August

(HIGHLAND PARK, Ill.) - The jewelry industry has seen changes in the way business is being done since the advent of the Internet, and especially since the economic downturn began in 2007. Ivan Levi’s quest to find answers to questions about these changes led him to discover how one specific, yet easy...

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Rings of Strength collects over $60,000 for JFC

4 DAYS AGO
Rings of Strength collects over $60,000 for JFC

(NEW YORK) - Jewelers for Children (JFC) held the 3rd Annual Rings of Strength Tour on Thursday, May 28, at Mandalay Bay Resort Casino in Las Vegas, NV. More than 125 participants assembled at 5:30 a.m. to either walk or run 5K, or bike one of two courses, a leisurely 15K route or a challenging 50K r...

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Padgett elected President of NC Jewelers Association

4 DAYS AGO
Padgett elected President of NC Jewelers Association

The North Carolina Jewelers Association (NCJA) announced that Brad Padgett, an independent jeweler and native of Jacksonville, North Carolina, is the new president of the statewide association. His two-year term of office as the organization’s president began May 16.

Padgett graduated with a B.S.B.A....

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Two Houston jewelers named Distinction Winners in Houston Better Business Bureau Awards for Excellence

4 DAYS AGO
Two Houston jewelers named Distinction Winners in Houston Better Business Bureau Awards for Excellence

(HOUSTON, Tex.) - Houston Jewelry and Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon were among the businesses recognized at the annual Houston Better Business Bureau Awards of Excellence held in May. Both businesses were named Distinction Winners, a designation awarded to businesses that maintain a superior commitment to...

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In tune with the times? New Unisex Ring Collection keeps the beat

4 DAYS AGO
In tune with the times? New Unisex Ring Collection keeps the beat

Designed by Elaine of Esprit Creations

New to SJTA and the Atlanta Jewelry Show, family business Esprit Creations has been successfully manufacturing and wholesaling fine sterling silver jewelry with genuine gemstones for over 2 decades. Standing apart from the ordinary, their wide selection of exclu...

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Mason-Kay Jade to make Atlanta Jewelry Show debut

4 DAYS AGO
Mason-Kay Jade to make Atlanta Jewelry Show debut

Mason-Kay Jade has been a leading fine jade jewelry wholesaler/supplier/designer in the United States since 1976. The company specializes in all natural (type “A”) jadeite jade fine jewelry, designed in-house by their exclusive designer Kristina and MK design team. Mason-Kay Jade is excited to intro...

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The silver lining to the 2008 holiday season

You've heard the news. You've seen the stats. The 2008 holiday retail season will go down as one of the worst in three decades. With a 2.8% decline in sales, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), retailers across the country suffered through the loss of an astronomical $13 billion.


Jewelry, or luxury items, took an especially hard hit. In October 2008 MasterCard SpendingPulse reported a 20% drop in luxury sales over the previous year before the official holiday season even began. By the first week in December SpendingPulse reported luxury sales dropping a staggering 34.5% from the previous year. It is not surprising that many jewelry retailers reported double-digit declines in post-holiday stats.


But all was not doom and gloom. There were glimmers of hope displayed by some retail jewelers. Several independent retailers reported maintaining or increasing sales for 2008. These so-called ‘anomalies' beg the question... How did they do it?


Here are a few success stories from fellow retailers across the country.


Steve Morris, Helm's Jewelers, Rockingham, NC:
"I am happy to say we were up for December and for year-end 2008. We are in a small community and saw two competitors close their doors. That helped drive a little traffic our way, but I really attribute our increase to aggressive marketing. We knew during a down economy that it was more important than ever to stay in touch with our current customers. We also worked very hard, concentrating on the promotions that had been successful for us in the past. Overall, we feel very blessed. The Lord has been good to us."


Jon Mervis, Mervis Diamonds, Tysons Corner, VA:
"About our holiday sales, we find the best way to understand our numbers is to separate the bridal business from the gift business. Our gift business took a substantial hit, but we were pleasantly surprised that our bridal business remained strong through the holidays. Traditions and human sociology don't change because of a bad economy. With that said, customers are opting for lower price points than in past years. The number of tickets we wrote was consistent with previous years, only the dollar value of each transaction was lower.


"Customers are certainly shopping around more, asking more questions, and really challenging us to be on our game. It's times like these where independents across the country can show their true passion for the business and, I believe, this will be the key to survival. A power-house like Zales might have buying power that we don't, but we have muscles to flex too. We have real people with real knowledge. Customers appreciate that and they prove it with their credit cards."


Rex Solomon, Houston Jewelers, Houston, TX:
"We were up 23% for December 2008 and finished the year up. That's pretty good since we were forced to close for an entire month due to the hurricane. I attribute our success to the daily grass roots marketing program we implemented. We ran an ad in the local paper every day. We hired 14 men and one woman to dress as Santa and stand outside our store along the main street of town. During the holiday season they would sing, dance and wave to people while holding our signs. We hired people throughout the year to dress up in theme according to the holiday and stand outside holding our signs. Our customers love it."

 

So where is jewelry retail now?

Regardless of whether you made money or not, the trend for the season was low price point, and it is likely to remain there for some time. Amazon, which many consider to be the online price point leader, reported their best retail season ever with more than a 17% increase on its busiest day, according to Kristen A. Lee, AP Business writer - an increase which occurred amid a 2.3% drop for online sales in general. Likewise, Wal-Mart was one of the few traditional retailers who saw increased revenue numbers for the holiday season.


With holiday sales typically accounting for 30% - 50% of a retailer's annual total, a large swing one way or the other has tremendous impact on the bottom line. Jewelry retailers whose financial stability was fragile before the holiday season are now at a make or break point for their business.


Although reduced consumer spending accounts for a large portion of the retail recession, banking woes put the nail in the coffin. There is no doubt that the survival rate of smaller retail businesses would have increased if the banking industry had been more stable. With banks reevaluating lines of credit and pulling the purse strings tighter, retailers were faced with smaller lines of credit on top of drastically reduced sales and, in some cases, were forced to make up the difference.

Bob Epstein, with Silverman Consultants out of Charleston, SC, puts it in perspective: "People really need help out there. They are calling us to help them generate extra cash either through liquidation, bankruptcy or clearance sales. Banking concerns are causing loan advancements to tighten. The advance rate has dropped and retailers have less available funds today than they did six months ago. Many of our clients are holding clearance sales to generate cash to put toward those reduced lines of credit."


According to the Jewelers Board of Trade 2008 year end report, retail jewelry bankruptcies increased 21.1% in 2008. Even more indicative of the economic climate is the drastic impact on wholesalers. Wholesale bankruptcies increased by 80%.


"Everyone in the industry is being affected. Manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers are looking to streamline," states Epstein. "Companies with several locations are looking to eliminate the least effective ones. They are identifying the poor performers and even looking at the number of employees they have. People are reacting to the economy."


Despite consumer confidence being at an all-time low, small independent jewelers have an opportunity. At a time when the American people desperately need someone to put their trust in, the small independent jeweler is poised to provide that and then some. They can be the stable, trustworthy entity that is not swayed by economic or political upheaval.


"Mom and Pop stores will survive if they create a niche in their community," states A.G. Becker, owner of Becker Jewelry in Breese, IL. "Local people are looking for jewelers who take pride in what they do and who put their life in their business."


Rex Solomon adds: "Mom and Pop stores will weather this economy better than larger chains because strong independents have a lower cost structure and are more responsive to the market. They have greater flexibility and can buy gold directly from the public. Independents also have wholesalers and manufacturers backing them."


Jewelry may be a luxury item, but it runs close to the heart of everyone. It is tied to emotion and tradition and, at the end of the day, to happiness - and happiness is a necessity.


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