Jewelry retail sales grew by 6.1% in 2004, says JA survey

Jewelers of America retailers increased their annual sales by 6.1% in 2004, according to JA’s annual Cost of Doing Business Survey. Independent mid-range stores enjoyed the largest growth with an 8.1% rise in sales from the previous year. Sales for independent high-end retailers grew by 5.2%, and chain stores were up 6.6%.

Gross margins inched up for jewelry retailers from 48.8% in 2003 to 49.2% in 2004, according to the 2005 edition of the survey, which features financial data from 2004. Independent mid-range retailers had the highest gross margins with 51.8 % (up from 50.1% the year before).

Distribution of sales among product categories in 2004 varied slightly from the previous year.

Diamond jewelry, at 36% (up 1% from 2003), accounted for the largest share of JA members’ sales. Loose diamonds totaled 14% of sales (up 2% from the previous year).

Karat gold jewelry and colored stone jewelry each represented 9% of total sales, each down 1% from 2003, according to the survey. Unchanged from the previous year, jewelry repairs made up 9% of JA members’ business in 2004.

The annual survey “is designed to help a retail jeweler compare their store’s financial performance to others in the industry,” said Matthew A. Runci, JA president and CEO. “By utilizing the survey, retail jewelers can identify their own strengths and opportunities for improvement.”

The survey looks at many key performance measures and includes a “how to” section designed to help retail jewelers interpret the data. The survey is based on confidential questionnaires completed and submitted by a sampling of JA members. Those JA members who participated receive the finished survey for free.

For the first time the survey is available on CD or via email. The survey is available to JA members for $19.95, and to non-members for $125. (Shipping and handling charges are extra.) The survey can be ordered by calling Jewelers of America at 800-223-0673, or by visiting JA online at www.jewelers.org.