04202018Fri
Last updateTue, 17 Apr 2018 11pm

Retailer Roundtable: What is your business outlook for 2018?

Q: What is your business outlook for 2018? 

RR Lynn“Based on our December 2017 sales, which were up 23 percent compared to the same time period the year before, I’m very optimistic about 2018. Usually our custom shop is very busy that time of the year, but this holiday season it was about the same. Surprisingly we sold a lot of our finished inventory of bread-and-butter goods, from diamond and fashion color to diamond essentials – such as studs, which we did very well with over the holidays. This holiday season the volume of sales was definitely up. Overall people are very optimistic and expressed it. Ours is mainly a retirement community. Those with investments in the stock market saw returns this year and have the confidence to spend their income. There’s also a lot of construction going on in this area, so other groups benefitting and being impacted by this activity are also feeling confident. City Council members are attracting new businesses and large retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club are moving into town. These guys do their homework and must see the growth potential here. Our town has gone from a quiet retirement town of 40,000 people to a more diverse population of 100,000 in recent years. It’s not unlikely that our population could reach 150,000 in five years. And, the recent tax plan will allow me to keep more of the money I earn in my business to reinvest in my business, and not having to borrow money. That’s huge for small business owners like me.”  

Greg Lynn, president
Greg Lynn Jewelers
Palm Coast, FL

 

RR Calcote“Things are definitely looking up. In the South, we literally had thousands of people impacted by layoffs in the oil industry and even support industries. But Christmas sales showed that things are coming back. For us, Christmas was better when compared to recent holiday season sales, but we were only down a few percentage points. Sales were strong enough to pay off my inventory sourced at the JCK Show in June, get the bills paid and even increase inventory. I did some checking around with other retailers. Some had a flat, down or even bad Christmas season, so I’m thankful we did well by comparison. I’m optimistic for 2018. The new tax law will benefit a lot of people. And, when those people impacted by layoffs get their necessary purchasing done after being called back or getting new jobs, they’ll be buying jewelry. One goal we have for 2018 is to increase internet sales. We were a little slow to social media and our online presence, but we quickly made up lost ground with active accounts on Facebook and Instagram to name a few. Like most jewelers, we’re combining the best of old and new media to get in front of our existing older generations of customers while attracting younger generations that are more comfortable with online purchases.”  

Mike Calcote, owner
Lafayette Jewelers
Lafayette, LA

 

 

RR Kajca“With my two stores, sales for me went up 5 to 8 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. I’m forecasting similar growth at the end of 2018. There are many factors leading with higher consumer confidence, lower unemployment and increased wages. Here in Toledo we’re 70 miles south of Detroit. We have a GM [General Motors] transmission factory and a Jeep factory here. Much of what happens in the auto industry affects my business. And, right now auto sales are doing well. Second, we’re at historic lows in unemployment. College kids are finding jobs faster out of college. My magic customer is that young professional that hasn’t purchased a home yet, and I’m capturing those customers. Companies are also starting to realize that if you want to hold on to good employees you need to pay them competitive wages. Take retail jewelry for example. The days of paying minimum wage and expecting them to have all of this industry and product knowledge in order to sell luxury products are long gone. Another plus to my business is lab-grown diamonds. Bridal makes up about 60 percent of overall sales and 50 percent of that is lab-grown diamonds. We offer customers lab-grown and mined diamonds. But with lab-grown, we don’t have to sell customers a smaller diamond to fit their budget. We can sell them the larger diamond they want. Having these diamond choices and a wide range of 1 to 1.5-carat semi-mounts on hand has been tremendously successful for us, something we’ll continue to see in 2018.” 

Phil Kacja, owner
J. Foster Jewelers
Toledo and Maumee, OH (two stores) 

 

 

“For us 2017 was pretty good. We’re hoping 2018 will be better. There are enough factors out there that indicate the economy is growing, especially here in Colorado. Compared to most states, Colorado’s unemployment is way down – to 3 percent. Businesses have ‘help wanted’ signs everywhere in their windows. It’s very hard to find good help these days. Locally, I see consumer confidence up with such a strong housing market. Property values keep going up and people are building everywhere. Although property taxes are on the rise, it’s not having an impact on people’s disposable incomes. Plus, we’re getting many people moving into what we call the ‘Front Range’ area, that 200-mile stretch from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. We’re also seeing a lot of renewable energy companies opening their doors here - especially wind turbine blade and solar panel production. And finally, I’m grabbing more market share in my town because so many stores are closing. Whether it’s retirement, an illness or surgery that has forced owners to close their doors, the older generation of jewelers going out of business has meant four store closures in my market. I’m 70, and am no spring chicken, but I have no intention of retiring and am looking forward to 2018. I’m very optimistic.”       

David Purdy, co-owner
D&K Jewelers
Wheat Ridge, CO

 

RR Hoover“The outlook for 2018 is very good. I come from the wholesale and manufacturing side of the business and my wife Ashley, the store’s namesake, gained retail experience through her own work history. In recent years, we decided to open a small retail store in downtown Hanover, Pennsylvania. Rent was cheap for the 900-square-foot store, and we quickly outgrew our space. A lot of the reason for the optimism for 2018 is moving into our new store in October 2017. I’ve been in this business for 30 years and have seen many changes. In the last 15 years, technology has totally changed the way jewelry is not just sold, but made as well. In our new 2,000-square-foot store, about one-third of the space is dedicated to the shop. We have 3-D CAD, advanced milling machines and 3-D printing. In the recent past, many of these tools were not cost-effective for a small jeweler to own. But costs have come down making it more within reach. In our new location near the mall, we’re in the middle of my main independent jeweler competitors. I’m the only one with the on-site advanced technology to do custom, which is about 75 to 80 percent of our business these days. In looking at the economy, it has been turning around for some time. As people get more comfortable with the improvements in the job market, consumer confidence and other indicators, they’ll spend more of their disposable income on jewelry. And, I think the new tax laws will help repatriate a lot of overseas investments back to America, which will trickle down from big businesses to small businesses.”

Ashley and Bob Hoover, co-owners
Ashley Lauren Fine Jewelers
Hanover, PA

 

We wans your opinion for our Retailer Roundtable. To participate simply e-mail your name, store name and location, and a picture of yourself to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. We’ll e-mail you a question and you e-mail us your response.


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