Another Quarter, Another 300 Jewelers Close

But the JBT says consolidation offers opportunities for jewelers that remain

The jewelry industry is continuing to consolidate, with 334 more North American jewelers discontinuing operations during the third quarter, according to the latest statistics from the Jewelers Board of Trade.

That’s an increase from third quarter last year, when a still-substantial 277 North American jewelers closed. It brings the total number to 981 for the year to date.

In addition, 64 wholesalers and 28 manufacturers ceased operations—meaning there were 426 jewelry-related business discontinuances in North America during the quarter. Included in that number are 16 consolidations (sales/mergers) and 10 bankruptcies.

While those numbers seem grim, JBT president Anthony Capuano doesn’t see the overall trend letting up anytime soon.

“I’m not surprised,” he says of the consolidations. “There are still well over 20,000 jewelry retailers in the United States. I don’t know what the right number is, but it clearly is below what it is now.

“The consolidation that we have seen in many other industries hasn’t spared jewelry,” he adds. “It’s just taken a little longer.”

He doesn’t believe that last week’s election results will affect the ongoing trend, pro or con.

“Couples in their 60s deciding to retire, competition from large chains, the Internet—those are much more important factors,” he says.

But, he adds, this consolidation presents opportunities for retailers that remain, as there are fewer competitors.

“If someone is inclined to go to a small independent or a small chain, there are fewer of them,” he says. “If there were four jewelry stores in town, now there are three.”

The JBT recorded 65 new jewelry businesses in North America this quarter, down from 74 last year.

JBT currently lists 28,370 jewelry businesses in North America, down 4.8 percent from last year.  That shakes out to 21,292 retailers, 4,181 wholesalers, and 2,897 manufacturers.  

JCK News Director

  • Sarah

    It always feels like a bad sign when jewelers retire/close/etc. But is part of the problem that newer jewelers coming onto the scene just aren’t fitting in to the same old-fashioned categories? I do business with a custom jeweler who has a couple of employees and two store fronts, but she insists that she is a “gallery jeweler” and more “art focused” than a “traditional jeweler.” Is there a silver lining out there with other younger jewelers just not self-identifying their businesses as jewelry stores?

  • Chelle McFerran

    I’m seeing less of the millennial children wanting to continue on in the “family business”, long time and multi-generation jewelry stores are not grooming heirs for the future of the industry. We will see more and more of this as modern millennial consumers look to express their individuality through custom jewelry and the harsh competition of the Internet sales. Flexibility is going to be key: if they cannot compete in these two arenas, they will not make it. Duplicating the experience of internet shopping will help, educating the internet shopper is also key. It’s risky buying precious jewelry on line. The 4 C’s are difficult to guarantee, metal quality, diamond certificates cannot be quantified. A good jeweler can do that and give a personal service that the Internet cannot provide. The Internet could be the meteor that sends the jewelry industry into the next Ice Age; only the strong will survive.

    • Vince Rath

      In our practice, we are seeing groups of retailers taking the steps necessary to train the next generation to compete with the issues of vertical integration and consolidation. The closures will continue; to be sure. However, the independent can create a vibrant business model. It will take adopting some of the techniques used by the majors to create efficiency in processes and performance improvement in people. If they can do this AND maintain their individual brand they will become the strong and provide the consumer with the best purchase option.

  • Every industry within retail has experienced or will experience this kind of disruption. Remember photo processing shops, video rental stores, and independent electronic stores? I don’t believe the jeweler’s future is as grim because of the inherent nature of the business but a significant transformation is inevitable. My question is whether the jewelry store owners that I know will make the necessary changes to survive and thrive.

  • Shiv C

    Some will do well, some will do ok, and a good sized group will under perform or have losses.

    With rising costs, Job losses rising, automation (such as automated self driving trucks, that will rise to a lot more job losses ) bad & poor industry leadership misleading the industry, internet competition, show rooming, less & less advertising poor customer reach, a very few retiring, more stores should close or go out of business next year.

    A lot lot more stores will close after the slow holiday season as I have mentioned before. It will soon be time for change.