The Sky Is Not Falling

When you pick up a newspaper or magazine today you’ll see a wide variety of discouraging reports about society in general and business in particular. The same observation applies to television and radio. With 24/7 cable news channels, we receive instant analysis all day and all night, over and over. Perhaps it’s the constant repetition that begins to wear away any notion of a different perspective. If repetition and frequency work with advertising, it stands to reason they work with news. News is just a different form of information. The media focus on negative stories because negativity sells.

With electioneering for the presidency in full swing, the media have even more fodder: the relatively low value of the dollar, gasoline prices at unusually high levels, gold over $950 an ounce, diamond prices continuing to head north, the subprime mortgage market causing financial turmoil, health care costs continuing to rise, taxes too high, taxes too low, the Iraq war is lost, the surge is working, the deficit is growing.

Amid these confusing and sometimes contradictory bits and pieces of information, in context or out, we enter the new business year with the February round of trade shows. And, oh yes, I forgot to mention the news that Fortunoff filed for Chapter 11. In this environment can an optimist find any good news at all?

I am happy to report that at both the Centurion Show and the AGTA Show, business was conducted. Buyers came and bought. Once again, a theme ran through Centurion among top-tier retailers: Many had a decent year despite a poor showing in the critical month of December. While not a universal story, that theme was evident despite the negative headlines.

Does this tell us anything about the jewelry business? Terry Chandler, chief executive officer of Diamond Council of America, made an interesting observation about the situation: “Perhaps jewelers have finally learned to sell throughout the year rather than just at and for Christmas.”

Weddings, anniversaries, and other significant occasions take place all year. Maybe jewelers are doing a better job of capitalizing on the opportunities these events offer.

The jewelry business enjoys stable growth, with 3 percent to 5 percent annual increases considered normal, according to industry analyst Ken Gassman. Jewelry stores are destination locations where consumers still come to make purchases for specific occasions. Don’t let the naysayers distract you from taking advantage of those events with new merchandise, effective promotion, a well-trained sales staff, and a welcoming environment. The number of weddings will increase in 2008, as will the number of anniversaries. Forget the negatives and work to get your share! The sky is not falling.

frankdallahan@comcast.net