As more large jewelry retailers release results and smaller independents weigh in, it's become clear that this year consumers were no longer "partying like it was 1999." However, the majority of jewelers aren't complaining. To them, holiday 2000 sales were fine, thanks.
"We had a 25% increase in sales in 1999, and this year our sales were down 8% from that. But we're still way ahead of any other year besides last year," says one East Coast independent. Put in this context, most jewelers see the season's sales as positive. They just can't compare to the blitz of jewelry buying that marked last year's "millennium madness," in the words of another independent.
Tiffany & Co.'s overall U.S. holiday sales, which the company reported yesterday, were down 1%. Its comparable U.S. store sales were down 3%, but that was after an increase of 27% last year. Sterling Jewelers, the nearly-1,000-store U.S. division of the U.K.-based Signet Group, enjoyed a like-for-like store sales increase of 1.3%. The company says the news is gratifying since the numbers are up against "very strong prior year comparatives." Mayor's Jewelers, Sunrise, FL, a luxury chain of 36 stores, saw a decrease of 8% in comparable-store sales during November and December.
Independents interviewed by Professional Jeweler say large diamond sales were particularly prominent this season, particularly solitaire rings and diamond necklaces.
- a Professional Jeweler staff report