Coming into the final weekend of the 2021 holiday-shopping season, jewelry designers, retail trade organizations, and industry experts agree consumers are fulfilling forecasts with how much they are shopping for gifts—especially jewelry.
To bolster last-minute gifts, jewelers are offering expedited shipping, emails hawking gift certificates, and adding tabs promoting in-stock gift ideas to their websites—all in a final effort to get shoppers to go all in on jewelry.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau said overall retail sales in November were up 0.3% seasonally adjusted from October and up 18.2% year-over-year. That compares with increases of 1.8% month-over-month and 16.3% year-over-year in October. Despite occasional month-over-month declines, sales have grown year-over-year every month since June 2020, according to Census data.
For Heather Pullis, founder and owner of California-based Heather Pullis Jewelry, in-person shows, a robust online store, and strong social-media posts have been the formula to boost her sales this holiday season.
“Holiday shopping this year has been fabulous,” Pullis says. “Scaling our company to 90% online in the last couple of years has been a huge difference! It’s convenient for customers to be able to purchase online, have their jewelry come beautifully wrapped with a click of the button, and just like that it arrives to their front door.
Pullis says consumers are following trends as well, especially layering their necklaces, rings, and bracelets. “They seem to be looking through social media and clicking on the jewelry and purchasing the whole look. In the past they might have just bought a pair of earrings or a necklace,” Pullis says.
Over the past week, retail groups and analysts all reported positive news about the holiday 2021 shopping season so far. On Wednesday, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that retail sales grew again in November, which the Washington, D.C., trade group has predicted will produce “record” sales for stores overall.
On Sunday, Edahn Golan Diamond Research & Data reported that rings dominated sales at U.S. specialty jewelers in 2021 followed by earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. Bracelets and necklaces were the two fastest growing categories in November.
Golan’s blog update also noted that U.S. jewelry sales rose 51% at specialty jewelers in November, which “continues the double-digit growth in U.S. jewelry sales seen since July 2020,” Golan said.
With the Census data released Wednesday, the NRF said its calculation of retail sales—which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants to focus on core retail—showed November was unchanged from October but up 14.8% unadjusted year-over-year. That compares with increases of 1.8% month-over-month and 10.6% year-over-year in October. NRF’s numbers were up 12.1% unadjusted year-over-year on a three-month moving average.
November sales were up in all but three categories on a monthly basis and were up across the board year-over-year, led by increases at clothing, sporting goods, and furniture stores. Specifics from key sectors include clothing and clothing accessory stores, which were up 0.5% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 35.3% unadjusted year-over-year.
“We expect demand will remain strong through December, even though consumers started holiday shopping earlier than ever this year,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Despite the rise of the omicron variant, increased vaccination rates combined with retailers’ ongoing safety protocols and procedures have resulted in consumers who feel they can continue to shop safely and conveniently. We believe that holiday sales this year could grow as much as 11.5% over 2020.”
Consumers have shopped earlier than ever this year, but NRF defines the holiday season as November 1 through December 31, so the November results mark the completion of the first half of the official season. NRF currently expects that 2021 holiday sales during the two months could grow as much as 11.5% over 2020, exceeding NRF’s earlier forecast of between 8.5% and 10.5% growth. Even at the low end of the range, both the amount spent and the growth rate would set new records.
For the first 11 months of the year, sales as calculated by NRF were up 14.2% over the same period in 2020. That is consistent with NRF’s forecast that retail sales for the full year should grow between 10.5% and 13.5% over 2020 to between $4.44 trillion and $4.56 trillion.
Top: Holiday shopping is growing nicely over the months of November and December, early sales reports show. Consumers are still confident despite pandemic-related shopping challenges, observers said (photo: Getty Images).@jckmagazine
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