Jewellers remain cautiously positive ahead of Xmas

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Retailers from across UK speak with PJ about the coming weeks.

Jewellery retailers and brands operating in the UK are preparing for Christmas with a view that is cautiously optimistic as the industry heads into the busiest consumer shopping month of the year.

Retailers from Edinburgh, London, Maidstone and Leicester have spoken with Professional Jeweller about the weeks ahead, with the majority confident that figures will be up on last year’s festive takings, when poor weather and delayed delivery halted shopping across the country.

Most believe that shoppers will be looking for price points from £100 to £500, though larger sales are viewed as making all the difference.

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Andrew Marshall of retailer Head & Hart hopes that this year will be an improvement on 2010, but expects the average ticket through the till to be about £150.”

Thomas Sabo UK president Harald Winzer is anticipating good things for his retail partners. “Almost all of our retailers have placed their Christmas orders sooner this year to be prepared as they expect very good festive sales,” he explained.

There have been a few incidents of early bird shopping – such as at CW Sellors, which reporting items being reserved as early as September – but the majority of retailers are bracing themselves for a last-minute rush, with Nathalie Kabiri of fashion-led jeweller Kabiri commenting that the Christmas rush comes later each year.

Dominic Gomersall of Lumbers added: “To me each week in December is double the previous week with the first week being equal to three weeks of mid-year trade. Hopefully those last minute purchases will come in to make the year a good one.”

The need for strong sales in 2011 is ever more urgent for retailers hoping to gain some ground after the losses caused by last year’s severe weather. Val Trotter of Scottish retailer Pebbles was badly affected by snow last year and hopes to at least match last year’s figures in spite of media reports that Scottish retail footfall has declined. “We’d be satisfied with level,” she said. Pebbles’ web sales are on the rise, however, with Trotter expecting it to be “well up” on 2010.

Another retailer selling online is QVC, and with its growing number of branded jewellery partners, the company expects Christmas 2011 to be positive. Vanessa Priest, QVC’s head of buying, said: “As our goods are posted or couriered to customers, our Last Ship day is Tuesday 20th December and we’ll support this with a full day of jewellery gifts on Monday 19 December,”

With a view to Christmas sales in January, many of the retailers are split on how positive these are for shoppers who purchase full-price items in December.

While Kabiri will host a sale of selected designers from early January, both CW Sellors and Pebbles cast an air of caution about slashing prices on items sold full price only weeks before. “We try not to encourage sales in general as we don’t want this to put customers off from spending at other times of the year, we also wouldn’t want it to affect how we trade in the run up to Christmas,” explained James Sellors. “For us it is as important to maintain a prestigious brand and trust the products we select and make to perform. As they offer something unique to customers.”

Trotter agrees but anticipates a more creative approach if there is a need to reduce prices after Christmas. “We generally don’t have a January sale because we feel it’s morally wrong to sell something at full price for Christmas then reduce it straight after. However we recently held a very successful Secret Sale for our Facebook and Twitter friends and for those on our emailing list. So rather than hold a traditional January Sale we may do something a bit more creative.”

Marshall, who was previously part of a family-run jewellers, said that if needs must, a January sale is certainly an option in “a very competitive market”.

Generally, however, there is an air of careful optimism. Marshall, Winzer and Kabiri all forecast figures to be up compared to last year. However Gomersall feels he is taking a more realistic view suggesting Lumbers trading will be “in line” with 2011. “The year to date has traded well above last year and currently we are some 20% up, but I think the bank of England’s comments and the media hype in trying to get a second recession is deafening and lowers my expectation for December,” he added cautiously.

Describing the company as optimistic, CW Sellors has budgeted for growth this Christmas. Sellors said: “I’m sure many businesses will find they could improve on last year’s sales. We are hoping [last year’s bad weather] will drive more people to the stores due to many customers who had shopped online found their parcels left undelivered last year.”

This article was taken from the December issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the December issue in full, online, click here for our digital issue.

 

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