Jewelers’ mini-watch fairs boost business

More jewelers are boosting their watch business with in-store watch shows, finds a new JCK survey, reported in the March 2004 issue of JCK magazine.

Trunk shows—in which a specific company comes for a few days to present its products to a store’s customers—have been around for a long time, but today’s in-store watch shows are more like mini-watch fairs, with many brands on display. They often have catchy themes and sometimes even make the local news.

A direct influence on the shows’ concept and content are the big annual Swiss watch trade fairs, where new and unique timepieces and collections debut and buyers can meet top officials of the brands.

The first mini-watch shows in U.S. jewelry stores began at the start of the 1990s, in stores like Alston in Cleveland, Ohio; Hamilton Jewelers, headquartered in Lawrenceville, N.J.; or the southeast regional Mayors chain. Today, almost one in six U.S. jewelers (18%) holds an in-store watch show at least once a year, finds a new JCK national poll of hundreds of jewelers. A third of those do it twice or more, and a few as often as eight times a year.

Most jewelers who hold these mini-fairs tell JCK they do it to strengthen sales in watches and jewelry and to boost consumer awareness and in-store traffic. Of course, not every jeweler does well. About 13% who’ve held one or more fairs say they’ll reduce or drop them this year because of less-than-expected returns. However, many more (22%) tell JCK they’ll add more mini-fairs this year based on the success (i.e., new customers, sales, market awareness) of previous ones.

Some of these are one-day shows, but most are weekend events held on Friday, Saturday, and sometimes Sunday. The second half of the year is most popular for staging a store show, with 25% of stores holding their shows in September or October and another 25% in the pre-Christmas season (November or December). Spring (primarily May or June) follows closely (21%) as a popular staging period, coming between big annual watch shows in Switzerland (in March or April) where all brands unveil their new models, and late spring holidays (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations).

For more on jewelers’ mini-watch fairs and other stories about watch retailing, see the March 2004 issue of JCK.