Last minute flurry fails to bring Christmas cheer for independent jewellers

The Company of Master Jewellers annual Christmas trading survey has revealed a slow December for independent jewellery retailers, with the ‘rush’ not starting until the week before Christmas.

Of the buying group’s retail members who were surveyed regarding December 2017 trading versus December 2016; 44% said sales were worse, 29% said sales were better, 17% said the same and 10% mentioned very low footfall. Some retailers added that the sales of fewer but higher ticket items, saved the period.

A resounding 98% of retailers observed that the Christmas rush, or their busiest week, didn’t happen until week commencing December 18, right up until closing time on Christmas Eve. Last minute spikes in store footfall were experienced on December 23-24 after online deliveries were no longer guaranteed.

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Retailers with an online store reported that sales were better than 2016 and several retailers noted that they were planning to get websites up and running for 2018 Christmas sales to be able to compete with Amazon and bigger digital players.

One retailer remarked; “Christmas sales were particularly poor this year. In mid December, we were 50% down which I attribute to a combination of severe weather (snow) and more sales going to Black Friday /Cyber Monday internet sales. Trading did improve slightly especially in the three days prior to Christmas, but we still finished the period down.”

The pooled average price spent on a gift was £134 with the lowest price point quoted being £15 and the highest £850.

The CMJ approved suppliers were also surveyed and they too experienced a mixed bag of results. On the Christmas sell-in period 42% found retailers bought around the same time as 2016, 37% of retailers bought later and 21% bought earlier, but most suppliers have reported good sales. Year on year sales figures for suppliers that responded were generally up, with a few reporting increases ranging from 20% to 80%.

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