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Christmas trade was said to be better than expected in 2013
Christmas trade was said to be better than expected in 2013
 









Jewellery retailers' Christmas trade better than expected

Despite what many would consider a difficult year in retailing, industry feedback has revealed that most retailers and suppliers achieved a positive result during the 2013 Christmas trading period.

Jeweller contacted a cross-section of industry members, with many reporting an improvement in sales from the previous year. While most noted that purchases fell within the lower price point category, the results still seemed to indicate that consumer confidence was beginning to recover. 

Colin Pocklington, Nationwide Jewellers managing director
Colin Pocklington, Nationwide Jewellers managing director
Nationwide Jewellers is Australia and New Zealand’s largest buying group (representing more than 500 jewellery stores), and its managing director, Colin Pocklington, said that based on initial discussions with members, results were on average about 10 per cent higher than last year. 

“We did expect Christmas to be up on 2012, but results were better than expected,” Pocklington explained.

“It looks like consumer confidence is returning, and the November overall retail sales figures from the ABS (increase of 0.7 per cent) show a recovery in discretionary spending.”

Independents work hard
Most of the independent retailers contacted echoed Pocklington’s sentiments, adding that while generally pleased with the trading period, they had to work hard in order to generate sales. 

Judy Cameron, managing director of Cameron’s Fine Jewellers
Judy Cameron, managing director of Cameron’s Fine Jewellers
Although Cameron’s Fine Jewellers in Swan Hill, Victoria reported a positive result – figures were up 6 per cent for the month of December – its managing director, Judy Cameron, believed the success was due to the “aggressive” marketing campaigns that the store held throughout the year. 

“By the time we got to Christmas we were on our client’s minds for their Christmas gifts,” Cameron said.  

She also stressed the importance for retailers to invent ways to distinguish themselves from competitors. 

“I know stores that are still doing what they did five years ago have probably had an ordinary Christmas and may not be in business this time next year as there is so much competition and so much information in the modern market. Our New Year challenge is to keep coming up with different ideas and reason why clients choose us.”

Wayne Goddard of Goddard Jewellers in Brisbane said sales increased about 10 per cent for December compared to the previous year. He did note; however, that figures were down in November, perhaps indicating that consumers weren’t purchasing gifts until closer to Christmas Day. 

Goddard added that staff had to work harder for sales this year as most customers were buying sterling silver jewellery at a lower price-point.

Alexander Jewellers and Watchmaker manager, Anya Sobby, had a similar opinion, adding that the trading period was slower than expected.  

Garry Holloway, managing director of Holloway Diamonds
Garry Holloway, managing director of Holloway Diamonds
“Customers were buying Kris Kringle type presents and were really only purchasing gifts for one or two people rather than for many like in previous years,” Sobby said. 

“We had to create specials to stimulate consumers and get them in the door – something we have never had to do before.” 

Sales at luxury retailer Holloway Diamonds fell slightly below expectations, perhaps adding further evidence that consumers were hesitant to purchase higher-priced items.

According to managing director, Garry Holloway, there appeared to be a lack of consumer confidence that was still affecting discretionary spending. 

Natalee Hubbard, Designa
Natalee Hubbard, Designa's Brand Manager
“We were hoping that a change in government would improve confidence but from our perspective it hasn’t seemed to have much of an effect yet,” Holloway explained. 

“I’ve heard that $300 to $400 [jewellery] purchases were popular, which doesn’t help our category where most items are priced in the thousands.” 

Popular products
As has been the trend in recent years, many retailers and suppliers noted that lower-price point items were top sellers for the period. Branded products such as Ellani Silver, Thomas Sabo, Ice-Watch, Karen Walker and Pandora were also popular. 

While Cameron said that jewellery pieces that “told stories” performed better than basic silver and gold items, she did report that the store’s custom-made offering and Montage CZ set gold range also performed well.

Keeping up with demand
Gina Kougias, managing director of Georgini
Gina Kougias, managing director of Georgini
If Pocklington’s comments were any indication, it appeared that many retailers were topping up on stock for a number of weeks prior to Christmas Day. “We noticed a surge in invoices from suppliers from late November,” he said.

Natalee Hubbard from Designa Accessories, which supplies brands including Guess watches and jewellery, Hot Diamonds and Maxum, can attest to Pocklington’s observations.

She said Guess jewellery box sets achieved consistently strong sales figures from the middle of November through to Christmas, with retailers replenishing large quantities of the items on a weekly basis.

Hot Diamonds sales also exceeded Designa’s expections, particularly the Emozioni collection. Hubbard noted that promotional gift sets seemed to be popular among consumers. 

John Worth, managing director of Worth & Douglas
John Worth, managing director of Worth & Douglas
Georgini, which specialises in sterling silver jewellery, was another brand that performed well. Managing director, Gina Kougias, said the business had a very positive Christmas trading period, adding that the last few months of the year were also successful. 

“The comments we’ve received from retailers are that they’re quite happy with Christmas trading. No records have been broken but they were still very pleased. Consumer confidence seems to be improving,” she explained.

And across the ditch, New Zealand-based supplier Worth & Douglas also reported solid trade and an improvement in sales from the previous year. 

Managing director John Worth said jewellery stores were making orders up until 23 December and that feedback from retailers indicated good results in both New Zealand and Australia.  










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