Gold Jewelry Growth Ahead of Industry for Holiday 2004


March 14, 2005

Gold Jewelry Growth Ahead of Industry for Holiday 2004

Gold jewelry sales by value in the U.S. increased 4% in 2004, reaching approximately $17 billion, the strongest growth for the gold category since 1999. Gold showed a robust 5.6% sales value growth in the final quarter of 2004, outperforming the industry's holiday sales increase of 3.6%, according to Rapaport Research's February 2005 sales recap of the 2004 holiday season. This marks the fourteenth consecutive year gold jewelry sales increased, according to the 17th annual U.S. gold jewelry sales summary conducted by NOP World and sponsored by the World Gold Council. The survey reports an increase of 4.2% in gold jewelry unit volume, while the average price per unit declined by 0.2% to $76.

"The media coverage of yellow gold's growing popularity in the fashion world and the availability of many innovative new designs of gold jewelry drove strong sales this past holiday season," says John Calnon, WGC managing director, U.S. "We are encouraged to see that leading U.S. retailers are meeting a growing demand for new and innovative gold jewelry, like that found in the Gold Expressions collections, developed based on insights gained from WGC consumer research and produced by leading Italian designers/manufacturers."

Consumer sales increased in several key categories. Bracelets increased in dollar sales volume by 7% and 6.2% in unit volume. Charms also show a growth trend with a gain of 3% in unit volume and 3.7% in dollar value, following the fashion world's embrace of dangling charms and the increase of more symbolic expressions of crosses, photo charms and iconic elements. Earrings showed positive growth every year over the last decade and continued to lead in unit volume with an increase of 6.3% in unit sales and a 6.1% increase in dollar sales volume.

Among retail outlets, non-store retailers led the field in the percentage increase of gold jewelry sales, reporting an increase of 6% in dollar sales volume (totaling $1.6 billion) and 5.6% in units, followed by mass merchants whose gold business grew 5% in dollar value (totaling $3.9 billion) and 5.3% in units. Department stores increased dollar sales volume by 4% ($3.2 billion) and unit volume by 2.6%. Jewelry stores, the largest channel of distribution, reported an increase in sales of 3.1% ($8.3 billion) and a unit sales increase of 2.5%.

"The new 'Speak Gold' campaign, which ran in fashion and lifestyle magazines in the final quarter of 2004, has undoubtedly helped to push the visibility of gold in the U.S. market, and we are starting to see the results of communicating a much more consistent message in both TV and print with our retail and manufacturing partners," says Michael Pace, vice president of marketing for WGC. "Our tracking of the advertising indicates that it is driving desirability of gold very effectively, which will be key to ensuring continued growth for gold in 2005."

All data contained in the survey is based upon the results of a retail market audit derived from confidential sales reports from a panel of over 7,500 stores encompassing all major gold jewelry distribution channels. The statistics cover all classes of trade for men's and women's gold jewelry where the primary value is gold content, including jewelry that contains accent stones. Consumers, specifically women who continue to drive self-purchase demand, overwhelmingly choose gold as a luxury item for themselves and as a gift for their friends and loved ones.

WGC, a commercially-driven marketing organization, is funded by the world's leading gold mining companies. A global advocate for gold, the WGC aims to promote the demand for gold in all its forms through marketing activities in major international markets. For further information visit www.gold.org. Copies of the complete 2003 NOP World U.S. Gold Jewelry Retail Sales report are available from WGC, (212) 317-3800, duvall.osteen@gold.org.



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