Jewelers’ Christmas 2013 Mostly Merry

Jewelers told JCK they were pleased with their 2013 holiday sales—although a sizable minority found business tough, with consumers still cautious and watching their wallets.

For most, however, it was a holiday to celebrate. Steve Hammalian, co-owner of Little Treasury Jewelers in Gambrills, Md., said his December sales were up 37 percent. “The season was smoother than in prior years,” he said. “Customers were relatively stress-free and a little more relaxed. They didn’t seem to have as much financial pressure.”

Cindy Bernard, owner of Dell Williams Jewelers in Santa Cruz, Calif., was equally pleased with customer turnout, calling holiday sales “way better” than 2012: “There was more foot traffic in the store, and instead of relying on a few big sales to carry us through, we had more sales, which is what ­everybody wants: more people out shopping.”

At Michael Tish Jewelers in Lincoln, Neb., owner Michael Tish recorded a 10 percent boost. “Not amazing, but as long as sales are up, I’m happy,” he said.

Still, many jewelers found themselves victims of forces beyond their control.

“Our jewelry sales were up 10 to 15 percent,” said Bob Capace, owner of Worthington Jewelers in Worthington, Ohio. “But overall, we are down 10 percent because gold buying is down 300 to 400 percent, and that’s been a big part of our business.”

Weather was a big concern nationwide. “We had an ice storm in Little Rock and that kind of put a damper on things,” said Laura Stanley, vice president of Stanley Jewelers Gemologist in Little Rock, Ark. “I was afraid people would just sit home and shop online. But they didn’t.”

Jeff Corey, president of Day’s ­Jewelers in Waterville, Maine, also coped with an ill-timed winter downpour. “We were doing well all through, but the last four days we had an ice storm,” he said. “The roads were awful, and Maine is such a remote state that people will drive for hours to buy. But we pulled off the week and exceeded last year’s numbers.”

Of course, not every jeweler was popping champagne corks. Tammy Northcutt, co-owner of Artisan Jewelry Co. in Sharpsburg, Ga., said her area has experienced a lot of layoffs. “Our 2013 Christmas season was not better than the year before,” she said. “That is different than every other year in business.”

Lisa Hocutt, administrative manager of Ora Designers/Fine Jewelers in Raleigh, N.C., said her store had the same number of tickets, but price points were down as much as 40 percent.

And to others, the holiday, with its truncated calendar, resembled a roller coaster—one they were glad to survive. “We needed the strong finish we got,” said Michael Haines, owner of The Diamond Shop in Lewiston, Idaho. “How sad it is to need the last two to three days to hit your number.”

But Haines was also pleasantly surprised at how his after-Christmas business was shaping up. “I’m standing here at 11 a.m. on Dec. 26 in Idaho and it’s a packed store,” he said. “We’re slammed. We’ve still got a whole lot of business to do this month.”

­(Additional ­reporting by Emma Beck, Victoria Gomelsky, ­Jennifer Heebner, and Emili Vesilind)

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