U.S. Jewelers Report Continued Sales Slowdown


August 10, 2001

U.S. Jewelers Report Continued Sales Slowdown

Whitehall Jewellers Inc. announced its sales for the second quarter ended July 31 decreased to $74.4 million from $ 76.1 million in the same quarter last year. Comparable-store sales for the quarter fell 10.8% in the quarter. For the six-month period ended July 31, sales decreased 4.3% to $143.3 million, down from $149.8 million in the same period last year. Comparable-store sales for the six months dropped 13.7%. Whitehall Jewellers is a specialty retailer of fine jeweler and operates 364 stores in 37 states. The company opened 23 new stores and closed seven in fiscal 2001.

Mayor's Jewelers Inc. reported its sales for the 13 weeks ended Aug. 4 decreased 12.5% to $34.3 million compared to sales of $39.1 million in the same period last year. Comparable-store sales fell 19.6% from $36.8 million in last year's second quarter to $29.5 million this year. For the 26 weeks ended Aug. 4, comparable-store sales decreased 14% and net sales dropped to $69.5 million, down from $73.9 million in the same period last year. "The company has experienced a sales decline due to cautious consumer spending as a result of the slowing U.S. economy, but is optimistic that sales will increase during the second half of the year," CEO Isaac Arguetty says. Mayor's Jewelers operates 37 luxury jewelry stores in the U.S.

Signet Group, the world's largest specialty retail jeweler, announced its sales for the second quarter ended July 28 increased 16.7% due to stronger sales in the United Kingdom. Comparable-store sales increased 0.1% overall despite a 3.4% decrease in the U.S. U.K comparable store sales were up 9.3%. Sales for the 26 weeks ended July 28 jumped 19.8%, and comparable-store sales for the period were up 1.7%. "The first half clearly highlights the inherent strength of Signet's geographic balance," Chief Executive Terry Burman says. "Despite the U.K. business' relatively small size, its strong sales performance more than made up for the negative impact on like for like sales of the difficult U.S. trading environment." Signet operates 1,606 specialty retail jewelry stores. Its 1,007 U.S. stores include Kay Jewelers, Jared - The Galleria of Jewelry and a number of regional names.

- by Julia M. Duncan