Gold jewelry retail sales in the U.S. increased by 6 percent in 2006, the strongest growth for the gold category since 1999, according to figures released by the World Gold Council. Despite industry concerns over a rising gold price, consumer demand was fueled by enhanced marketing and the growing fashion trend toward yellow gold.
It is the 16th consecutive year of gold jewelry sales increases, according to the annual U.S. gold jewelry sales summary conducted by GfK Audits & Surveys and sponsored by the World Gold Council.
“Gold has received extensive media coverage in both fashion and business media” says John Calnon, WGC managing director, US. “The continuing media coverage of yellow gold’s growing popularity in the fashion world and the rising gold price has strengthened awareness for gold in the mind of the consumer.”
Department stores and traditional jewelry retail chains all saw strong sales in gold jewelry sales for the year, according to the WGC. Retailers credited increased advertising and marketing efforts and more gold jewelry designs.
At JCPenney, fine jewelry was a top performer in sales during the holiday season and gold was the star, according to Beryl Raff, executive vice president & general merchandise manager, Fine Jewelry. Raff said a joint print advertising effort in USA Today and Parade magazine by the department store, the WGC and gold suppliers led to the sales increase.
Finlay, which operates jewelry departments for several department store chains credited an increased availability of designer gold jewelry.
“Gold jewelry was one of the best performing categories for us this holiday season,” said Charles Leavy, Finlay vice president of merchandise.
Sterling department stores and Ben Bridge Jeweler also reported strong sales in gold due to joint promotions with the WGC and focusing on gold in their own promotional efforts.
Retailers who focused on updating their gold merchandise assortments and promoting them were able to capitalize on the fashion buzz for yellow gold and show incremental gold jewelry sales, the WGC said.
The complete 2006 annual US Gold Jewelry Sales report will be available in May 2007.