While some feared that the COVID-19 pandemic would spark mass store closings, the Jewelers Board of Trade (JBT) found—like JCK—that a lot fewer jewelry businesses closed in 2020 than in past years.
JBT logged 627 business discontinuances in 2020, a 33% drop from 2019, when more than 900 North American jewelry business called it quits.
The 2020 discontinuances include 512 retailers, 66 wholesalers, and 49 manufacturers.
JBT defines a discontinuance as a business that ceased operations (486 companies fell into this category), filed for bankruptcy (24), or merged or was acquired (117).
Most of these discontinuances were in the United States, but 22 were in Canada.
There was also a sharp drop in the number of businesses entering the industry, reversing the trend of previous years, which generally saw the number of new businesses rise.
Last year, JBT added 157 new businesses to its rolls—130 retailers, 14 wholesalers, and 13 manufacturers. That’s a 33% drop from the 234 it added the prior year.
Overall, JBT listed 25,553 North American jewelry businesses in its database at the end of 2020 (24,233 in the United States; 1,320 in Canada), a 2.1% drop from the prior year. That breaks down to 19,344 retailers (U.S. number: 18,369), 3,703 wholesalers (U.S. number: 3,486), and 2,506 manufacturers (U.S. number: 2,378).
By contrast, at the end of 2014, JBT listed more than 30,000 jewelry companies.
JBT president Erich Jacobs says it’s possible that more businesses closed than the data shows.
“We won’t list something as out of business unless we know for sure it’s out of business,” he says. “I suspect that some stores are effectively out of business even if they haven’t officially [closed]. We can find examples of companies that have a lot of historical trade information but have essentially stopped trading like a retailer, but we can’t confirm that they have closed.”
He was also struck that both business openings and closings dropped by almost the exact same percentage—over 30%.
“That’s consistent with what we’ve seen,” he says. “We just had a couple of months with just nothing happening.”
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