U.S. gold jewelry sales increase in 2003

Gold jewelry sales in the U.S. increased by 2.5%, topping $16.3 billion for 2003, “showing continuing sales growth despite political uncertainty, a weak currency, and rising gold prices,” the World Gold Council (WGC) reports.

This marks the 13th consecutive year of gold jewelry sales increases, according to the sixteenth annual U.S. gold jewelry sales summary conducted by NOP World, (formerly RoperASW) and sponsored by the WGC. The survey reports an increase of 3.9% in gold jewelry units sold, while the average price per unit declined by 1.3% to $76.17.

“We are encouraged by the leading retailers’ increasing inventory commitment to gold jewelry. Despite higher costs for the raw product, gold jewelry sales continue their moderate growth as female consumers choose to express themselves with the warm, stylish and evocative language of gold,” said Michael C. Barlerin, WGC’s regional director, Americas.

Consumer sales increased in several key categories. Bracelets increased in dollar sales volume by 8.2% and 6.8% in unit volume. Earring have shown positive growth every year over the last decade and continued to lead in unit volume with an increase of 6.6% in unit sales and a 2.6% increase in dollar sales volume, significantly influenced by the fashion world’s embrace of yellow gold hoops, dangling chandelier-style earrings and shoulder-duster drop earrings, the report states.

Among retail outlets, mass merchants again led the field in the percentage increase of gold jewelry sales, reporting an increase of 3.6% in dollar sales volume ($3.688 billion) and 5.4% in units. Jewelry Stores, the largest channel of distribution, reported an increase in sales of 2.3% ($8.054 billion) and a unit sales increase of 1.8%, and Department Stores increased dollar sales volume by 1.3% ($3.120 billion) and unit volume by 0.6%.

“Successful retail stores merchandised new collections during the fourth quarter, offering gold jewelry at a wide range of price points and styles and a good mix of fashion forward yellow gold, two-tone and white gold choices. Value-added enhancements like enameling, hand-worked finishes and small diamond accents helped to sustain gold jewelry demand at retail,” said Rick Bannerot, WGC’s VPof advertising in the US.

All data contained in the survey is based upon the results of a retail market audit derived from confidential sales reports from a panel of over 7,500 stores encompassing all major gold jewelry distribution channels. The statistics cover all classes of trade for men’s and women’s gold jewelry where the primary value is gold content; including jewelry that contains accent stones. Consumers, specifically women who continue to drive self-purchase demand, overwhelmingly choose gold as a luxury item for themselves and as a gift for their friends and loved ones.