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Jewellery industry feedback showed mixed results over Christmas, but most retailers were able to meet their budgets and were positive about 2015
Jewellery industry feedback showed mixed results over Christmas, but most retailers were able to meet their budgets and were positive about 2015

Christmas jewellery trading proves a mixed bag

Although the jewellery industry ended last year with varied Christmas retail results, high-value sales and strong Boxing Day trading has left a number of retailers feeling positive about 2015.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, industry feedback from a cross-section of the local jewellery trade indicated patchy results during the Christmas sales period. The general consensus, however, was that sales were slightly better than the previous year, with some retailers reporting lower foot traffic but higher price point purchases.

As previously reported by Jeweller, analysis from the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) conducted in conjunction with Roy Morgan Research predicted that $45 billion would be spent over the 2014 Christmas trading period between 15 November and 24 December – a 4.3 per cent increase on 2013’s total retail sales.

While ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said he would not be able to confirm whether the forecast had been realised until the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its full December retail sales figures next month, he did note that 2014 had had a “fairly slow start to Christmas sales in November due to the reluctance of consumers to start their holiday shopping early”.

Colin Pocklington, Nationwide Jewellers managing director
Colin Pocklington, Nationwide Jewellers managing director
Russell Zimmerman, ARA executive director
Russell Zimmerman, ARA executive director

Nationwide Jewellers managing director Colin Pocklington said the net overall increase of 2–3 per cent in 2014 Christmas sales across the buying group’s 400 stores had been “pretty much as anticipated, with mixed results”.

Showcase Jewellers acting CEO Carson Webb offered a similar report: “A very mixed bag of results is the only way we could describe it. Certainly there were some incredible results and many of our retailers enjoyed a fabulous Christmas. Given all the challenges currently out there, it was a solid result.”

Showcase Jewellers represents more than 250 member stores.

These statements were largely representative of comments from a selection of jewellery retailers Jeweller spoke with.

Meeting budgets
Consistent with Zimmerman’s comment, Ian Sharp, director of Melbourne-based Ian Sharp Jewellery Craftsmanship, found 2014’s Christmas trading to be very slow.

“There was no real Christmas spirit at all,” he said. “It was actually a bit scary in that years ago, jewellery retailers used to work until midnight with people ordering in October and November for Christmas. Now people are leaving it until the last minute because they can get things straight away online.”

What Sharp found interesting, though, was that he was able to meet his budget through a few high-value sales. “It was very quiet in the sense that there weren’t heaps of shoppers, but whoever did make a purchase bought nice pieces,” he said.

Holloway Diamonds managing director Garry Holloway also reported that average sales had been stronger than expected with less foot traffic, leading to an approximately 10 per cent increase on his Melbourne-based business’ 2013 Christmas sales.

Garry Holloway, Holloway Diamonds managing director
Garry Holloway, Holloway Diamonds managing director
Ian Sharp, Ian Sharp Jewellery Craftmanship director
Ian Sharp, Ian Sharp Jewellery Craftmanship director

Conversely, Webb said that average sales for Showcase had been lower compared to 2013 while the number of units sold had been higher. “Owners and staff were working flat out for many units, but not of a huge dollar value,” he said.

EverettBrookes marketing manager Mike Vasey explained the lead-up to Christmas at the Adelaide jewellery store had been “unbelievably busy”; however, he didn’t believe the result was due to festive season gift buying.

“We were putting in a lot of overtime to accommodate demand for our handmade engagement rings, wedding rings, earrings and pendants,” he said. “This is the peak period for us not because it’s Christmas, but because it’s engagement and wedding ring season.”

Russell Steele of Inkas Jewellers in Busselton, Western Australia, also found Christmas was “brisk and slightly up on last year” in line with his expectations.

Jewellery chains appeared to fare well during the 2014 Christmas trading period. Bevilles CEO Michelle Beville told Jeweller that the business – which operates 16 stores across Victoria, NSW and South Australia – had experienced a lot of online and in-store activity over Christmas, with customers responding well to its product range and sales.

Meanwhile, Shiels Jewellers managing director Toby Bensimon said the trading period, although tough, had been more successful for the business – which has a total of 41 stores across Queensland, SA and Western Australia – than last year.

“All three states [we operate in] performed fairly well, with WA and SA breaking a long trend of very tough trading. Queensland continues to perform better that other states for us,” Bensimon commented.

Pocklington said brands that had performed particularly well amongst Nationwide’s members included Nikki Lissoni, Ellani and Pandora, with several stores also making large diamond sales.

For Shiels, Bensimon said it had been a “watch Christmas”: “Our Japanese and fashion brands recorded double-digit growth across the board.”

Strong sales ring in the New Year
ARA predicted that $16.1 billion would be spent from Boxing Day through to 15 January, 3.6 per cent more than the $15.5 billion spent in post-Christmas retail sales in 2013.

Michelle Beville, Bevilles Jeweller CEO
Michelle Beville, Bevilles Jeweller CEO

Strong sales ring in the New Year
ARA predicted that $16.1 billion would be spent from Boxing Day through to 15 January, 3.6 per cent more than the $15.5 billion spent in post-Christmas retail sales in 2013.

Toby Bensimon, Shiels Jewellers managing director
Toby Bensimon, Shiels Jewellers managing director

Strong sales ring in the New Year
ARA predicted that $16.1 billion would be spent from Boxing Day through to 15 January, 3.6 per cent more than the $15.5 billion spent in post-Christmas retail sales in 2013.

The industry body reported that Australia had spent at least $2.072 billion on Boxing Day alone – a year-on-year increase of at least $72 million. “If sales continue like those we saw [on Boxing Day] throughout the post-Christmas period, the ARA and Roy Morgan Research predicated post-Christmas figure of $16.1 billion will certainly be exceeded,” Zimmerman said.

Commenting on the post-Christmas trading period, Bensimon said, “These sales continue to exceed expectations each year. I believe that this trend will continue to strengthen as people begin to get used to them in states where this is still a novelty.”

This period was busy for Steele, who, interestingly, was able to drum up further sales through post-Christmas returns. “There are always a lot of returns after Christmas and we found that people bought up and bought extra. When they brought something back for an exchange or a gift voucher, they tended to buy more than had already been paid,” he explained.

Strong activity continued into the New Year for Bevilles as well, with Beville stating, “Like many other retailers, we were pleased with Boxing Day traffic.”

2015 predictions
Bensimon was positive about the year ahead, stating, “I think that this year will be better than 2014 with conditions improving a couple of percentage points.”

Holloway also expected his business would thrive in 2015. “We expect an even better year partly because we are holding good quality diamond stock and we are not afraid of internet pricing competition; it seems 85 per cent of sales are not from the web,” he said.

Pocklington, however, said sales would likely continue to fluctuate. “We [Nationwide] see a continuation of the trend over the


















Monday, 27 May, 2019 05:00pm
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