Consumers showed jewelers a little love this Valentine’s Day, with most retailers surveyed by JCK saying that Feb. 14 sales came in strong and sweet.
“It was the best Valentine’s Day we ever had,” said Allan Torrington, co-owner of Knowles Jewelry, Minot, N.D. “Sales were up 57 percent over last year. Guys in North Dakota have been cheap at times, but they were very generous this year.”
At Joint Venture Jewelry in Raleigh, N.C., Jen Hankin, director of communications, said the store did surprisingly good business over the holiday. “In the past, we’ve found Valentine’s Day to be a low-dollar holiday,” she said. “But clients seemed to be in a good mood shopping with us, with many splurging more than they did for Christmas.”
Among the items cited as top sellers: Pandora and other brands of beads and charms; diamond staples like studs and pendants; silver; and that Valentine’s Day perennial, engagement rings.
Many retailers said that this year, men wanted to go beyond traditional low-cost gifts. “Even if they weren’t buying engagement rings, customers are now ready to buy jewelry,” says James Linsmayer, manager of the sales floor at Jewels by G. Darrell Olson in Phoenix. “In the past, it was much more of a flowers-and-chocolate holiday.”
Diane Garmendia, owner of 33 Jewels at El Paseo in Santa Barbara, Calif., also saw a shift in buying tendencies. “Compared to last year, fewer men wanted [to buy] flowers and chocolates,” she said. “They were more confident and wanted a more sentimental piece—an heirloom that could be passed on to their children.”
Other jewelers found the holiday more uneven, with some forced to cope with the consequences of bad winter weather. “We had snow the day before Valentine’s Day, so we had a little glitch there,” said Ann Wagner, co-owner of Ludwig’s Jewelers in Chambersburg, Pa. “But it didn’t seem to hurt business. They either rushed in on Wednesday or they came in on Friday.”
Even though many jewelers are in areas where the economy remains shaky, reports from Valentine’s Day indicated a decent performance. “In my area they are kind of cautious,” said Jim Truax, co-owner of Butler Truax Jewelers in Selma, Ala. “We had a good Christmas, but once Christmas was over they got cautious again. But [in the end] it turned out pretty good.”
Whatever the reason, jewelers were happy that consumers came through. “We were up a little bit from last year,” said David Mell, owner of Goldsmith Jewelers in Lawrenceville, Ga. “I don’t think the economy is any better, but people are tired of not spending money.”
(With additional reporting by Victoria Gomelsky, Jennifer Heebner, Brittany Siminitz, Emili Vesilind, and Alexis Williams)