As retail and jewelry experts predict blockbuster holiday sales this year, some jewelers are saying they plan to treat employees to special events, parties, and even travel getaways to say thank you for the hard work that goes into a successful shopping season.
Luxury goods—especially jewelry—will sell big again this holiday, experts agree. As a result, jewelry retailers can expect more in-store sales and a demand for excellent customer service. Because jewelry stores tend to have long-term employees, ensuring these staffers feel appreciated is front and center for many store owners, managers, and designers.
Avoiding worker burnout is key for some jewelers, who said they want their staff not only to feel valued but also ready for anything customers will bring when they shop both now and in those final hours on Christmas Eve.
“Right after Labor Day, we went back to normal hours seven days a week. We had been open six days since the first of the year, and last Christmas we were open seven days but were short staffed and had to drop back to six. We didn’t want to burn people out,” says Angelo P. Breaux Sr., owner of New Jersey’s Family & Co. Jewelers.
“We’re half family, half adopted family, so during the holidays, we buy meals while people are working. The big thing we do is generally in January—that’s when we have a big party,” Breaux says. “We’ll do something different each year. One year it was bowling, another was a casino night. One time, we had a big Middle Eastern dinner with belly dancers.”
Greenwich St. Jewelers also transported its employees—but to a scenic New York mini vacation, says owner Jennifer Gandia.
“This year, we decided to host our staff for a getaway before the holiday season began, in mid-October. Last year, we couldn’t do much and we know how important for team building having quality time together is,” Gandia says. “We invited the entire staff and their partners and families up to the Catskills in New York for a catered backyard feast at my home and then the next day we had brunch and went on a rail trail ride together. This was during peak fall foliage, and it gave us all time to share meals and enjoy each other’s company surrounded by the beauty of nature.”
Getting back to other annual holiday traditions for the staff is in the works as well, Gandia says.
“We will, of course, also return to our annual holiday dinner, which we do after the first of the year, but this trip was really about showing our staff just how grateful we are for all their dedication and hard work,” Gandia says.
And it likely will be hard work from this point forward. The National Retail Federation predicted nearly two million more people would shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, another boost for what the trade organization says will be a “record-breaking holiday season.” It predicts overall retail sales will be up 8.5%–10.5% across categories, including luxury.
On Monday, diamond industry analyst Edahn Golan said on his blog that his firm expects U.S. jewelry sales to total $94 billion–$95.3 billion, up 51%–53% year-over-year. That is a rise of 40%–42% in the November–December holiday period, he noted.
“A fantastic holiday jewelry sales season is underway. Expect sales to rise a strong double-digit year-over-year. A successful holiday season results in a rush for goods in January. We predict continued high demand for jewelry and diamonds in early 2022,” Golan said on his blog.
The past two years have had their share of ups and downs—and jewelers are happy to enjoy the highs together. At Alison Lou, creative director and designer Alison Chemla says her team is like family to her, so she wants to do something special for them for the holidays.
“Every year we have a holiday party, whether it is a team bonding activity or a dinner. We all look forward to our end-of-year event, where we can just relax and spend time together,” Chemla says. “I especially think after the past couple of years dealing with COVID, we really appreciate that we are even able to do it.”
The same goes for Jenna Grosfeld, founder and designer of Jenna Blake.
“This year to get in the holiday spirit, my team and I are actively creating holiday-themed content that instantly puts us in the holiday spirit and spreads cheer,” Blake says. “My team and I have been researching philanthropic causes that we want to raise money for through jewelry sales. We are working on incentive programs to give back to causes that we care greatly about.”
Top: Some jewelers are thinking up innovative ways to reward employees for their hard work during the holidays, including dinners, special events, and travel (photo: Getty Images).
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