By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief
It appears that National Retail Federation’s (NRF) forecast of solid sales for the Thanksgiving Day weekend came to fruition. Results of an annual survey it released with Prosper Insights & Analytics just ahead of the holiday predicted that upwards of 182 million shoppers would frequent stores and shop online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. Nearly 75% of those surveyed planned to shop during the five-day period, an increase from 69% in the days before COVID-19 hit.
However, results far surpassed NFR’s estimates; some 200.4 million consumers shopped the period, compared with 196.7 million the previous year. NRF doesn’t provide data on fine-jewelry sales alone but noted that 49% of shoppers bought clothing and accessories.
More good news came from other trade groups.
- Mastercard SpendingPulse data showed that jewelry and apparel were among top-performing categories.
- Foot traffic in jewelry stores rose nearly 7% on Black Friday and almost 3% on Saturday from 2022, according to RetailNext, making the category the second-best performing sector it tracks.
- And Adobe Analytics revealed that online jewelry sales skyrocketed 113% during Thanksgiving weekend compared with an average day in the month of October.
Retailers interviewed by AGTA revealed that Diamonds were a top seller, though colored gemstones weren’t far behind.
Marc Altman of B & E Jewelers in Southampton, Pa., said that his suburban Philadelphia store was quiet on Friday, but Saturday—Small Business Saturday—was busy. “Black Friday is for $49 TVs, but we sold Diamond fashion earrings on Saturday and some bridal,” he says. In color, he sold more-affordable gems like Amethyst rather than Rubies and Sapphires. He’s anticipating a different holiday season than last year’s robust one.
“It’s not that people are worried about the wars or nervous about the economy, but credit card debt is up and food costs a lot more,” he observes.
Susan Eisen of the eponymous store in El Paso, Texas, had a so-so Black Friday sales period. Both college and professional football games were competing for her shoppers’ attention. She, too, sold more Diamonds than colored gems, but in color, Rubies were her best seller.
“We sold small stones, little studs and pendants,” she says. “We had a few promotions, including an annual Emerald show, but we’re gearing up for the other weekends where sales will be more major.” Her best sale for the five-day period? About five pieces of different designer jewelry for $10,000.
Meanwhile, in Santa Maria, Calif., Katherine Fischer of Fischer’s Fine Jewelry had a fab holiday weekend—sales rose 15% over 2022, though she’s not sure why.
“If I knew, I’d make millions,” she jokes. “I think it’s just long-term business over 20 years in the same location. We have a great word of mouth.”
Diamonds sold well for her, too, as did colored gemstone basics. “The retail atmosphere is such that people are shopping more freely than last year and enjoying it,” she adds.
Another merchant with strong Black Friday weekend sales is Tony David of Beverly Hills Jewelry Buyers, who also saw a 15% increase. Big Three gemstones and lots of Sapphires moved best, and his biggest sale was a Princess Diana-style ring with a 12 ct. no-heat Burmese-origin Sapphire. Jo Deng of Aurora Designers in Osprey, Fla., also sold plenty of Sapphires, including an impressive bracelet with Montana Sapphires.
While sales are always the highlight of any 4th quarter, Altman sees a possible problem on the horizon: Merchants who don’t have a physical inventory of Diamonds (of any kind) on hand to show clients.
“Some retailers are not stocking actual Diamonds, which is a bad sign for the store,” he adds. “How can you win a war without soldiers in the field? If customers can’t see products in store, then they might as well buy online.”
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