Jewelers Report Mixed Black Friday

Overall, jewelers reported mixed results on Black Friday—but remain optimistic for the upcoming holiday.

Many say that the day after Thanksgiving is not as important for them as it is for big-box retailers, so they didn’t try to lure shoppers in with any specials. Still, with so many people out buying, many saw increased traffic.

“Black Friday is usually so dead for us we let our wives have the day off,” says Tom Light Jr., sales manager for Lights Jewelers & Gemologists in Hattiesburg, Miss. “This Friday we all came in and stayed all day long. It was a very busy day, probably one of our best Black Fridays ever, and we didn’t have any sales or promotions.”

Light says that the store has had a “fabulous year” overall, and based on last week, is hoping for a record December.

Patrick White, salesperson at Osborne’s Jewelers in Huntsville, Ala., says his store also didn’t run any special promotions, but is still happy with its results, with traffic strong and shoppers buying a “mish-mash” of items.

“It gave us a lot of ground,” he says.

One of the most creative promotions came from Lewis Diamond & Timepieces in Webster, Texas, which handed out free donuts and coffee to people standing in line at the neighboring Best Buy.

“Even though we weren’t open, it was great for name recognition,” says Kimberly Bills Mack, marketing director. The store also ran an Orbis trunk show and hourly specials, leading to “excellent traffic.”

Also getting in the spirit of the day was Becker Jewelers in Breese, Ill., which did its first Black Friday event this year—a “gift with purchase” on Friday and Saturday. “It was very successful,” says owner A.G. Becker.  

Other jewelers had more uneven results.

Lee Brochstein, marketing and social media director of Jonathan’s Fine Jewelers in Houston, says Black Friday was “pretty quiet” in the morning, but business picked up in the afternoon.

“We had a lot of customers picking up engagement rings since a lot of people get engaged during the holidays,” she adds.

Carol Pellegrini, co-owner of Pellegrini Jewelers in South Norwalk, Conn., says that sales were down a little from last year, in large part, she thinks, because the big box stores got a head start by opening up on Thanksgiving evening. “Our clientele is waiting to buy closer to the holiday, so I’m hoping things will pick up,” she says.

Paul Bechtold of Bechtold’s Jewelers in Sioux Falls, S.D., also didn’t notice increased traffic. “We don’t really gear up for Black Friday, we’re kind of old school that way,” he says. “Our regulars start hitting us around the second week of December. Husbands usually come in frantic and end up buying things like diamond studs.”

Looking at the larger retail picture, many analysts consider this Black Friday strong.

A National Retail Federation survey found that a record amount of consumers shopped on Black Friday this year, with more than 35 million Americans visiting stores, up from 29 million last year, the survey found. 

The entire four-day period also hit a record, with 247 million shoppers hitting stores and websites on Thanksgiving weekend, up from 226 million the year before.

According to the survey, 15.2 percent of consumers bought jewelry, less than bought toys (34.6 percent); books, CDs, DVDs, and video games (39.8 percent); and electronics (37.7 percent).