The Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ) has reported that a large proportion of its retailer members have seen better post-lockdown trade than anticipated.
More than half of the respondents to a CMJ survey of its 150 members shared this positive outlook, based on the first four weeks after 15 June.
Over half (54%) of the retailers said that sales had been better than expected since they reopened, with 40% reporting that they were in line with expectations. Only 6% of retailers stated that sales were worse than expected.
Meanwhile, over 50% reported that trade since reopening was better than or in line with the same period in 2019.
Joe Blackmore of G Tydeman Jewellers in Stowmarket, Suffolk, said: “The services side of the business has been very busy [since reopening], with lots of jewellery repairs in particular.
“Bespoke jewellery was busy pre-lockdown and I am pleased to say it has picked up where it left off, with new enquiries for bespoke pieces of jewellery or using customers own stones from other pieces to remodel.
“There have been good diamond and wedding rings sales since reopening, which I am pleasantly surprised about.
“Also, I have never changed so many watch batteries. I hope this positive response from our customers continues.”
Many retailers reported that while footfall was down, the customer conversion rate was up. Jack Murphy Jewellers in Newry, Northern Ireland, contacted bridal customers in advance of reopening to make appointments and has reported that 91% of sales since reopening were diamond rings, with sales overall up on than the same time last year.
Bridal sales have also been strong for George Moss Jewellers in Uckfield, East Sussex. Managing director Robert Suckling said: “Footfall has been down but the sales value has increased. There has been lots of interest in pre-owned watches and jewellery, and high-value diamond jewellery. Our appointment system has worked well in conjunction with our customer lounge. The conversion rate on appointments is about 90% whereas walk-in is about 65%.”
The CMJ concluded its report with comment from managing director Emmet Cummins: “It is of course a real shame that this pandemic has led to the loss of some great brand names off the high street and that other multinational retailers have had to take the difficult decision not to reopen some of their locations.
“There are, however, some shoots of optimism and some encouraging signs of consumer confidence, even when it comes to non-essential product. The retailers within the CMJ have worked extremely hard to adapt their businesses and service to ensure customers still feel confident and comfortable to visit and shop with them. And consumers have responded positively, which has led to a decent percentage of retailers within the group performing better than expected and some even able to achieve like-for-like growth, which is fantastic to see.
“If we are to continue to build consumer confidence and remind them there is a fantastic and safe high street to return to, it is equally important that stories such as these form some of our headlines.”