Retailers hope shoppers will turn to jewelry and luxury items

At a time when people are nervous about job security, down about dwindling financial portfolios and stressed about global political unrest, merchants on Chicago’s downtown Jewelers’ Row hope shoppers will turn to dazzling diamonds and glittering gems to lift their spirits, Reuters reported.

“We sell happiness and we sell romance, and those are two things that people still want,” Jerrold Rosenwasser, owner of New York Jewelers in downtown Chicago, told Reuters.

With sale signs dotting storefronts in an effort to lure shoppers to window jewelry displays, Rosenwasser admitted that the retail climate had changed. Still, he predicted sales this holiday season would be at least as strong as last year.

“The mood certainly is different,” he told Reuters. “You go through rough times, and you go through good times. We’re trying to stay upbeat.”

No matter how desperately people want things to cheer them up this holiday season, they will probably turn to items less expensive than jewelry, said Kurt Barnard, president of Barnard’s Retail Consulting Group.

“Jewelry is a high-ticket item,” Barnard told Reuters. “There’s no question that people who are losing their jobs, or who are afraid of losing them, will rein in their expenditures. They are enjoying luxury, but luxury at a lower price.”

That’s why discounters like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. have fared better in recent months, as shoppers with limited budgets seek out the best deals, Reuters reported.

Morris & Sons Co. Inc., a sprawling 13,000-square-foot store on Chicago’s South Side that sells designer items at a discount, has benefited from consumers looking for bargains, even though sales are not as robust as they used to be.

“People are starting to shop. In the last two weeks, it has been much better,” owner Aaron Morris, a 48-year veteran of the retail business, told Reuters. “I’m expecting a very big holiday season.”

Sales at Morris & Sons have been down as much as 10% in the last two months, he said.