JBT: Some Bright Spots

The most recent statistics from the Jewelers’ Board of Trade shows far fewer retail bankruptcies than one might imagine from the rash of gloomy conversations about the industry. Huge percentage increases make headlines, but the actual numbers are small.

For example, November 2008 saw six retail bankruptcies compared with four in November 2007. On paper that’s a 50 percent increase, but it’s only two stores.

As of Nov. 30, 2008, the total number of retail bankruptcies for the year had risen 10.8 percent over the same period in 2007. But, putting things into perspective, there were 41 retail bankruptcies as of Nov. 30 2008, compared with 37 in the same time period of 2007. That’s an increase of only four stores across the United States for an 11-month period. Not so bad, after all.

On the supplier side, the number of bankruptcies actually declined 25 percent in 2008; there were two fewer bankruptcies by the end of November this year than last.

Wholesaler bankruptcies more than doubled from last year, though even at that, only nine closed their doors, compared with four last year.

In total, 1,237 businesses closed in 2008. Of those, only 58, or 4.6 percent, were bankruptcies. One hundred sixty-eight (13.6 percent) were combined with other businesses in a sale or merger, and the remainder, 81.7 percent, simply ceased operations. Reasons included retirement or a desire to change careers.

The number of claims also decreased by 3.4 percent in 2008.