Retailers on the East and West coasts report strong sales for the holidays, while those in the Midwest say consumer jitters about the economy affected them adversely, according to an informal poll of independent jewelers by Professional Jeweler.
Midwesterners blame rising fuel prices, intense competition and stock market gyrations for the downturn. These first returns will be checked
against greater numbers as more jewelers report holiday sales in the
Jewelers on both coasts credit their big-ticket sales to the enduring relationships they have with regular customers, many of them wealthy and optimistic despite economic concerns. They also credit aggressive advertising campaigns and moderately priced merchandise with producing a steady flow of new customers.
Merchandise that sold well throughout the nation included:
Diamonds: Studs and dangles were most popular. Fancy colors did well,
especially yellows and rich browns.
Colored Gemstones: Rubies were surprise winners, in all sizes. In close competition were sapphires, then various other red
and pink gems. Emerald sales remained soft. Cultured pearl sales were mixed, with some
jewelers reporting strong sales of South Sea and Tahitians, while others saw
Metals: Gold made the beginning of an expected comeback in popularity,
reflecting its return to grace in the fashion world. Once again, the trend
started on the coasts, with the Midwest still clinging to white metals.
Better Italian goods, especially heavier chains, led the way.
Watches: All the high-end brands sold briskly, thanks in part to strong spending on consumer ads. Check back for more detailed watch coverage on Thursday.
- a Professional Jeweler staff report