JCK Show ~ Las Vegas 2003: Good news all around

Business in all sectors at The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas was, for most exhibitors, strong, solid, and optimistic. Pent-up demand resulting from several years of a stagnant economy and moribund sales had already begun to let loose during the winter 2003 shows, and by the time the Las Vegas show opened May 30, jewelers—many of whom had canceled buying trips abroad this winter—were hungry for new merchandise.

Buyer attendance roughly equaled last year’s figure, at approximately 19,750, said show vice president Dave Bonaparte. Some exhibitors said traffic seemed slightly less, though everyone agreed that buying was strong.

Most retail jewelers JCK spoke to at the show—and at the preceding Luxury by JCK and Couture Collection & Conference shows—reported a slow spring in the weeks leading up to and during the war with Iraq, followed by a strong rebound in May, fueling optimism for fall sales. Additionally, jewelers also proved themselves ready for more than just fill-in orders: Demand for fashionable merchandise and distinctive design was strong.

Even this year’s SARS scare, which devastated the Basel show in April, had no effect on the business done by the Hong Kong section of the show—home to 112 jewelry exhibitors, 14 more than in 2002. “This year’s visitor traffic was better than last summer’s show, and the business overall was 3% to 5% higher, in terms of orders placed, than last year,” said B.K. Chow, general manager of the Hong Kong Jewelry Manufacturers’ Association, organizer of the delegation. In fact, a number of European retailers and others who were prevented from doing business with Hong Kong firms in Basel (due to the Swiss government’s ban on Southeast Asian exhibitors) came to Las Vegas specifically to do so.

JCK Show management contained fears of SARS by requiring Asian exhibitors to arrive in Las Vegas at least 10 days prior to the show (10 days is the maximum incubation period for the disease), to obtain medical certification before leaving Asia, and to be re-certified by JCK Show doctors in Las Vegas prior to attending the show. That course of action succeeded in allaying buyer fears of contracting the disease from one of the exhibitors.

The JCK Show alone normally accounts for 10% to 15% of the annual business of Hong Kong’s jewelry companies, and the Hong Kong delegation has already asked The JCK Show management for a floor of suites in the Venetian at the 2004 show, where a number of mid-size and major Hong Kong jewelry companies can meet with their clients.

A complete JCK Show report, which will include the JCK Luxury Show and the American Gem Trade Association show as well as reports on how different industry segments viewed the event, will appear in the July issue of JCK magazine.