It would be easy to panic for your business in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But I encourage you to stay calm and work smart instead. Its a strategy I learned from my Dad, who endured tough times in his small business. The industry continues to produce research showing you have every reason to feel confident you can weather the storm. MVI Marketing of Paso Robles, CA, conducted research in late September about consumers holiday buying plans. MVI found 41% of consumers believe gift-giving will have even more importance this year than it did last year. This ties into a story in this issues Image section (page 54) concerning how you can promote close relationships and jewelrys symbolic role in reaffirming and cementing them.
In speaking with jewelers around the country, Ive been delighted to learn of brisk sales of patriotic jewelry. This creates a bright spot in a sad end-of-year selling season. We have a second report on patriotic jewelry this month in our Trend Spotting section (page 78).
I was encouraged also to read Jewelers of Americas latest Cost of Doing Business survey, containing results from 2000. Though it reported lower sales increases and a decrease in profitability, the study also analyzed why some jewelry stores remain highly profitable. It found you can do a lot of little things to improve profitability, including tinkering with store hours, timing promotions better and making small decreases in certain budget items. What I found even more helpful in the study was a list of strategies jewelers have used to increase sales and profitability. How many of you are:
- Expanding into the incentive business, where smaller jewelers can focus effectively on professional and service companies.
- Focusing inventory on best-sellers, including analysis by price points.
- Dropping slower moving lines.
- Buying or making unique items.
- Selling more estate jewelry and increasing emphasis on services.
- Training staff to sell quality rather than price.
- Using technology to help sell jewelry, including computer software that tells when to contact customers for birthdays and other occasions.
- Focusing more on professional women, who are buying more jewelry with their own money.
- Examining alternative ways to sell jewelry, including the Internet and joint promotions with non-traditional partners.
An Oct. 17 story on our Web site, www.professionaljeweler.com, reported e-commerce analysts predict a 10%-31% increase in online holiday spending this year for several reasons. For one, the fear of additional attacks may cause consumers to avoid public spaces such as malls. The ability to shop from home or office may draw more shoppers online also. And analysts also say many people wont travel this year and will send gifts bought online instead. Its also easier to comparison-shop online. Increasing your Web promotion presence could be a good bet.
Keep the faith and work smart. Well get through this together.