Jewelry Sales Up and Should Stay Strong

January 6, 2000

Jewelry Sales Up and Should Stay Strong

As jewelers upscale and down report strong holiday sales, one Wall Street analyst says the Christmas 1999 bump is the beginning of a long trend. "I think, for the next 10 years at least, the future is bright and sparkling," analyst Ken Gassman of Davenport & Co., New York City, told CBS MarketWatch.

Today, Tiffany & Co. reported worldwide net sales increases of 28% for the two-month holiday period. U.S. retail sales were up 29%, with same-store sales up 2%. Same-store sales in Japan were up 13%.

It was Tiffany's eighth year of double-digit comparable-store sales growth, says Mark L. Aaron, vice president of investor relations, and its largest year-to-year increase since going public in 1987. Tiffany's direct marketing sales grew 24%, due mostly to growth in its catalog division and corporate-owned stores. Internet sales, which began in November, "met expectations," Tiffany says.

Also today, Zale Corp. reported a record comparable store sales increase of 16.3% for November and December. Total sales for the period were $662.1 million compared to last year's sales of $504.7 million, a 31.2% increase.

The sales outlook is good, says Gassman, for the short- and long-term.

Short-term, there's a strong economy and the arrival of 2000, which encouraged jewelry purchases and a spike in engagements. Long-term, millions of Baby Boomers – roughly one-third of the U.S. population – are entering their peak earning years. "They have fewer commitments on that money and a lot of discretionary income," says Gassman.

- by Mark E. Dixon