Determined to shop early, gift-giving consumers are picking up everything from personalized necklaces to diamond tennis bracelets to holiday-themed charms in hopes of crossing off items on their wish lists before the crowds build and inventory diminishes.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), 49% of holiday shoppers the NRF surveyed said they will at least start browsing or buying before November—and some jewelry retailers say they have seen proof of it in their stores. That NRF number is up from 42% last year, and it is the highest in the survey’s history, officials said.
Custom designs and personalized items are doing well, jewelers say, and U.S. consumers are still interested in gold and diamonds as special gifts for loved ones. Watches also are selling well in addition to rings at a variety of price points.
“We see a lot of our early shoppers placing orders for personalized items. Anything with names, dates, initials,” says Alison Chemla, creative director and designer at Alison Lou. “Our Custom Word necklaces, Custom Word baby bracelets, and Mrs. rings are always top holiday sellers—there is nothing better than receiving a thoughtful, one-of-a-kind gift that was made just for you.”
At Jenna Blake, founder and designer Jenna Grosfeld said they are seeing consumers looking to create festive traditions with chains and charms. “People are pre-buying with themes in mind for their holiday charm collection,” Grosfeld says.
At Judith Ripka, Bob D’Loren, chairman and CEO of Xcel Brands, says people got their wish lists ready in October, and holiday shopping started to pick up then and in the first week of November.
“We are selling across all categories from our signature eternity rings, necklaces, and watches to diamond hoop earrings and tennis bracelets,” D’Loren says.
Atlanta-based Universal Diamonds owner Ronnie Agami says that shoppers got the message from media and retailers alike that if they wanted to purchase jewelry for holiday gifts, they needed to pull the trigger sooner than later.
“Demand for nice diamond jewelry is at a level we’ve never experienced before,” Agami says. “Clients are also willing to pay more for superior workmanship as well as higher-end product. There’s demand for higher-end diamond studs and strong demand for large, fine diamond studs.”
NRF forecasts predict that holiday sales during November and December will grow between 8.5% and 10.5% over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion. The numbers, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants, compare with a previous high of 8.2% in 2020 to $777.3 billion and an average increase of 4.4% over the past five years.
“Over the last few years, consumers have demonstrated the desire to begin their holiday shopping earlier and earlier,” Prosper executive vice president of strategy Philip Rist said in a statement. “This year in particular, as retailers promote holiday inventory, they are taking advantage of additional offerings such as free shipping, buy online, pick up in store, and even expedited shipping to ensure they receive their gifts on time.”
RetailMeNot also found in its holiday-shopping survey that consumers plan to get into stores and online to buy presents way before Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, which is traditionally considered the launch of the holiday shopping season for most people. In its survey, 66% of respondents said they prefer to complete all their holiday shopping as early as possible, and 30% said they’re starting even earlier than they did last year.
The early shoppers will have plenty of deals to keep them busy. In previous years, RetailMeNot found major retailers kick off “pre” Black Friday sales as early as October, and, last year, major retailers, including Home Depot, Walmart, Target, and Amazon, launched select Black Friday deals throughout November.
However, RetailMeNot’s shopping and trends expert Kristin McGrath says it is encouraging consumers to go in person when they want luxury goods, such as jewelry, so they can see and touch what gifts they want to buy.
“Companies often will mark down some of their jewelry items for Black Friday, but you should ultimately pass on these offers,” McGrath says. “If you absolutely must, opt for in-store purchases so you can see what you’re really getting—otherwise wait until Valentine’s Day for the better deals.”
Top: This year holiday shoppers are getting out earlier than ever to pick up personalized jewelry and other special gifts, jewelry retailers say (photo: Getty Images).@jckmagazine
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