SKU’d Views: How Jewelers Do Business Today

In the latter 1990s, both retailers and manufacturers routinely planned for double-digit annual growth. But when Christmas 2000 sales fell far below expectations, every sector of the supply chain was left with enormous piles of excess inventory. Suddenly, sharply, the reins were pulled in. But has the industry really changed its buying patterns for the long term? Here’s what JCK found in a special survey and report.

“The key was Dec. 31, 1999. Until then, everyone [in jewelry retailing] had it easy.” So says Dale Perelman, president and CEO of the King’s Jewelers chain headquartered in New Castle, Pa., with 50 stores in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. “After that—after the excitement of the millennium passed—everything began to change and go down. The spending to prevent the Y2K bug, the shock of 9/11, the stock market slump, the dot-com collapse—it all affected the jewelry business and how we do business.”

He’s not alone in thinking that. A JCK national survey of hundreds of independent and multi-store jewelers reveals significant changes since the late 1990s—specifically, how and what retail jewelers buy, how they price goods, how they manage inventories, and the state of their relationships with suppliers. Many of these changes—resulting from new realities in economics, competition, and consumer spending in their markets—are permanent and will shape the way the industry does business.

The extent of those alterations, however, is significantly different for independent and multi-store jewelers, while the supplier and banking sectors have their own opinions of what the future holds.