September 4, 2003
Trade is Optimistic About Fall Sales
The latest news from suppliers and forecasters suggests the trade is anticipating a bullish holiday season, especially in diamond sales.
Jewelry forecaster Kenneth Gassman, of Rapaport Research, says his group predicts that jewelry sales could be up 5% to 8% over last year's holiday season, according to the Rapaport Report. Gassman cites positive economic factors, such as economic activity, personal income levels and the stock market, all of which he says have the greatest influence on jewelry demand. Factors such as unemployment, consumer debt, consumer confidence and other factors have little impact on jewelry demand, he says.
Gassman believes the biggest threat to robust sales will be retail jewelers' lower inventory levels, still down after two soft years. But reports of solid buying at summer trade shows allay these fears somewhat, he says.
As a sign of increased demand for diamond goods, Israel's diamond controller announced that the country's net exports of polished diamonds increased 9.2% in August over a year earlier, with exports to the U.S. adding up to 69% of the total. August is typically a slow period for diamond sales, notes the Israel Diamond Institute, so the figures are encouraging the belief that jewelers feel positive sales momentum growing. "Consumers worldwide are continuing to express their loyalty to diamonds as a symbol of love, as well as an exciting fashion trend," says Simcha Lustig, the new chairman of the IDI. "We are optimistic that 2003 will continue to be a good year for the Israel diamond industry."
Finally, industry giant Stuller, Lafayette, LA, a reliable forecaster of industry trends due to its size and influence, also announced it is launching a new business unit called Stuller Diamond International, to help its retail customers sell more and earn more, says the company. The new unit will offer high quality loose diamonds, and its staff will be solely dedicated to helping retail jewelers earn additional profits through increased sales.
Stuller plans to staff its new unit with leading experts in the field who have spent their careers studying, buying and selling diamonds; grading experts who will work to produce reliable descriptions (Stuller uses GIA standards); inventory specialists to assure customers receive the exact products requested; and customer service representatives who can advise a customer even when his client's wishes are somewhat unclear.
Stuller will also give retailers a proprietary marketing program that provides what it calls an effective means of presenting and selling quality diamonds, called the Red Box(tm) Program. To be ready for increased diamond sales, Stuller Diamond International retailers will be able to present any quality diamond size, cut, or color to their clients, says the company. The Stuller Diamond International policy of just-in-time delivery means customers who order by 5 PM will have any diamond they order the next business day. For more information on Stuller Diamond International, call (800) 877-7777 or visit www.stuller.com.
by Peggy Jo Donahue