U.S. Bankruptcies Down 15% in First Quarter

The latest financial statistics from the Jewelers Board of Trade offer some encouragement in a tough market. For the first quarter of 2008, the total number of U.S. bankruptcies—combined totals among retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers—declined by 15 percent compared with the first quarter of 2007.

The total number of new retail businesses in the first quarter of 2008 grew slightly, 1.7 percent, over the first quarter of 2007. For retailers, it appears the money is headed south, as all gains in new retail businesses happened in the Sunbelt. New jewelry businesses in the Southwest leaped 150 percent, the South Central region posted a 20 percent gain in new retail businesses, the Southeast a modest 7.1 percent gain. Meanwhile, snow is out—the Northeast, North Central, and Northwest regions all showed significantly higher declines in the number of new jewelry businesses opening this year vs. the same period last year. (Note: These figures indicate the number of new jewelry retail businesses opening in the quarter, not the total number of businesses in the region for the quarter.)

The number of new wholesale businesses grew 60 percent in the same period, but these increases were offset by a decline in the number of new manufacturing businesses, which posted a 75 percent decline from first-quarter 2007 figures. Overall, the number of new jewelry businesses in all three categories declined slightly, by 2.5 percent, in the first quarter 2008 over the same period of 2007.

JBT reports 9.4 percent fewer claims placed with its collections department in the first quarter of 2008 vs. the same period in 2007, however, the average amount per claim grew 24.6 percent, from $6,583 last year to $8,203 this year.