Industry / Retail

Jewelers Shift Shipping Dates to Ensure Holiday Gifts Arrive on Time


This holiday season, some online jewelry retailers and brick-and-mortar stores are moving their shipping deadlines forward earlier than ever, citing recommendations from shipping carriers as one of the main reasons for the change.

Jewelers of all sizes say they have been boosting communication to consumers about shipping deadlines, especially those who are shifting them to November to ensure those all-important holiday gifts arrive on time. Others, such as Detroit’s Shinola, say they are moving deadlines up at least two to three days per updates from UPS and other carriers.

Shipping costs will also go up, as carriers such as the U.S. Postal Service say they are increasing their prices for peak holiday season. The challenge for online shopping is that in this era of low-cost or free shipping, paying extra may turn off consumers or move purchases to another store in hopes of getting a better deal.

As a result, many jewelers say they will promote even more messages of “shop early” online and in stores for holiday 2021. This is both to encourage people to get orders in and to also to make sure their clients aren’t disappointed if a much-anticipated gift shows up after the decorations are starting to come down.

Overall, holiday spending is predicted to be up in 2021—the National Retail Federation says holiday sales during November and December will grow between 8.5% and 10.5% over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion. Still, challenges abound as experts predict boosts in sales volume since events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday will likely make shipping and keeping must-have items in stock a struggle.

Elaine B
Elaine B owner Elaine Jaeger recommends gift sets, such as her Gift of Unity set shown above, be ordered by Dec. 15 to arrive in time for the holidays (photo courtesy of Elaine B).

Joel Layton, Shinola’s vice president of e-commerce, digital, and marketing, says Shinola contacted its primary carrier, UPS, when company officials heard others such as the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx were moving up shipping-deadline recommendations. As a result, Shinola moved up its deadline to Dec. 21, about two days earlier than previous years, Layton says.

“Customers are reading the news and getting bludgeoned with messages to shop early, so we’re seeing evidence that people are coming into stores to start [holiday] shopping,” Layton says. “On the micro level, we are planning ahead and also working with our supply partners to get some components earlier, so it feels like we’re going to be OK.”

To help consumers get the items they want in a timely fashion, Kay Jewelers launched a new service this year: same-day delivery to a customer’s home if the product they want is in stock, says Kay, Zales, and Peoples president Jamie Singleton. Kay also has a buy online/pickup in store option.

Singleton says through the company’s preparation and the benefits of virtual consultants, services, and connected commerce capabilities, they feel they can mitigate potential supply-chain issues.

“As far as shipping deadlines, it depends on the product,” Singleton says. “However, this year we were able to engage with our vendors and partners as early as possible to ensure they were given the necessary tools to meet the holiday season demand.”

At Judith Ripka, clients also are encouraged via email, website messages, and special events to get orders in early for its Dec. 21 shipping deadline, says Bob D’Loren, chairman and CEO of Xcel Brands, parent company of Judith Ripka.

“This year will be a bit different from last year. With supply-chain delays, we want to do all that we can to ensure our clients receive their jewelry gifts on time,” D’Loren says. “While we cannot guarantee delivery dates, we are advising to place orders a little earlier than usual. All orders must be shipped by Dec. 21 to make it for the holidays, and we will offer expedited shipping to facilitate.”

Detroit’s Rebel Nell pulled its holiday-shipping deadlines up as well because it works with the U.S. Postal Service as its main carrier, says Rebel Nell chief operating officer Diana Roginson. On Monday, the jewelry brand emailed customers that the deadline for standard USPS shipping was Nov. 1 and that shipping costs would increase from that date forward.

“This year, we are anticipating longer-than-normal shipping times, as we saw a backlog of packages being moved through USPS in Q4 of 2020,” Roginson says. “For this reason, we are adding an additional two to three days in our shipping cutoffs so that our customers’ packages can move through the USPS warehouses before the influx in packages from other retailers.”

Elaine Jaeger, owner of Elaine B in Ferndale, Mich., is also recommending that her customers order by Dec. 15 for in-stock gifts items, which include jewelry, candles, and specially curated gift sets.

Charles & Colvard’s senior director of sales and merchandising Hillary Watson says the retailer’s shipping dates will be consistent with those from 2020. Its deadline for made-to-order product is Dec. 2 and in-stock product is Dec. 23. However, it will be boosting customer communication around shipping and add more in-stock items to stores.

“With shipping being top of mind universally this year, we will be placing more emphasis on early communication and making sure that all consumer touch points remind our customers of the time lines,” Watson says. “We will be bannering our e-commerce site, emails, social, paid advertising as well as utilizing our incredible customer service team.”

Top: Shipping deadlines will be more fluid in 2021 with many deadlines moving up on the calendar because of shipping challenges, some jewelers say (photo: Getty Images).


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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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