Business Outlook:: Caution Ahead!

Independent jewelers enter this election year with tempered optimism about their businesses. A national poll of the JCK Retail Jewelers Panel shows that while most expect solid sales and profit gains, few are confident enough to speculate on unproven products, add more stores or enter new retailing venues such as computer selling. Their caution has two causes: When polled a year ago, many jewelers were overly optimistic about their 1995 business prospects. At that time, 78% predicted higher sales and 71% expected higher profits than in 1994. As 1995 neared its end, however, the outlook had dimmed. Only 65% still expected sales increases and only 56% expected higher profits. (Year-end figures weren't available yet, of course; a strong Christmas could have greatly brightened the picture.) A significant minority (23%) of independent jewelers say consumer conf

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