After Christmas last year proved a muted affair thanks to last-minute changes to Covid restrictions by the UK Government, the country will be gearing up for this year’s celebrations to be even bigger and better than usual.
With that in mind, jewellers will be hoping that customers will be ready to jump headfirst back into buying jewellery to show loved ones how much they have been missed during the pandemic.
So which types and styles of jewellery are forecasted to sell best through the fourth quarter of the year? “Christmas is all about gifting and choosing the right piece for your loved ones,” says Chantelle Serrell-Cooke of Domino Jewellery. “So, we anticipate personalisation continuing to be key in Christmas purchasing this year.”
Personalisation can come in all different forms, the marketing manager notes, including of gemstone, metal colour, stacking and layering, or even an engraved message.
In addition to this, Serrell-Cooke is keen to highlight a few more products that are likely to sell well for retailers this year. Alternative gemstones, she says, are rising in popularity as consumers stray away from the classic diamond.
“Yellow gold is also seeing a resurgence in popularity,” the marketing manager explains, “thanks to celebrity influences such as Kendell Jenner’s preference for statement yellow gold jewellery and Megan Markle’s infamous three-stone yellow gold engagement ring.”
Finally, she adds that classic pieces of neckwear, wristwear and earrings can always be counted on, but predicts that a second round of engagements could be on the cards as happy couples make wedding plans over the Christmas period and jewellers reap the rewards in ring sales.
Elsewhere, CME buyer Tracey Toach believes that people will be looking for “a much-needed sense of energy, optimism and fun” in their jewellery this year, with yellow-plated gold chains “with pearls and sparkle” expected to prove profitable.
The wholesaler is not putting all of its eggs in one basket, however, and promises a varied selection across all price points.
Gecko Jewellery general manager, Ruth Johnson, concurs: “With Christmas parties within reach we feel this year people will be seeking those ultimate sparkle pieces.” She mentions that the ‘ear party’ trend is likely to continue, adding: “Stacking up on those studs, hoops and long gems will be the goal this Christmas.”
Finally, Mesmeric Distribution (UK distributor for Ti Sento – Milano) founder and managing director, Judith Lockwood, is also hopeful that the “party season” will inspire customers to get back into jewellery stores.
“We believe that customers are not going to hold back, whether they are buying for themselves or gifting to others,” she says, expecting much of the population to splash the cash on pieces that are sure to make them feel glamorous.
The brands are also keen to note that their retailer support packages have changed, in some cases considerably, due to the pandemic. Mesmeric’s Lockwood notes that certain elements of retailer support have not yet returned quite to normal despite the lifting of Covid restrictions.
The managing director admits her team “really misses” in-store customer events and evenings, but is confident they will be back soon.
“What we can still do,” the founder says, “is support through our social media images, web images and web banners. We also work as a team to respond as soon as possible to any enquiry.”
Likewise, Gecko’s Johnson mentions imagery, web-friendly catalogues, brand videos, social media posts, posters and its very own customer service team.
Domino’s Serrell-Cooke concurs that digital support has been on the rise since the pandemic, saying the brand has “completely overhauled” its online buying experience for bridal jewellery.
Prioritising website development as much as digital support, CME emphasises the importance of recreating the in-person buying experience through online channels.
Despite the challenges of working this way, Mesmeric Distribution’s Lockwood is grateful that when the pandemic came we at least had the technology to stay connected through it all.
“We welcome every communication, however it arrives,” she says. “Facebook Messenger, social media replies, LinkedIn, Instagram, WhatsApp, text or even the good old phone call – they all mean we can have a chat at any time of day or night, no matter where a retailer is based, and that’s pretty special, helping us build new relationships in new ways.”
TOP TIPS FOR RETAILERS THIS CHRISTMAS
“We feel at Gecko that everyone will be out this year Christmas shopping from as early as October,” enthuses Gecko’s Ruth Johnson. “Last year Christmas was limited for so many due to restrictions and lockdowns, and this year customers will want to celebrate more than ever.”
Whether this proves true or not, competition will be fierce this year as businesses battle for survival, so PJ asked four retailers for their advice on thriving as a jewellery retailer this Christmas.
“Attention to detail is more important than ever, stocking the right lines, at the right prices, presenting them in the best way possible combined with excellent customer care,” suggests CME’s Tracey Toach. “Successful high-street retailers tell us that focusing on creating the safest shopping experience possible is absolutely key right now.”
Judith Lockwood of Mesmeric Distribution believes that self-promotion will be key this year. With everyone operating with limited human contact for the past year and a half she suggests now is the time to create “human-focused stories” through advertising and social media channels.
Finally, for Domino’s Chantelle Serrell-Cooke, success this winter is simple. She explains: “We believe the key to success is having the right product offering supported by a top-quality service.
“But once retailers create the perfect product offering, how do they remain ahead of the competition? Service. Service is key in today’s market, with consumers expecting a level of flexibility from retailers as well as support in such a sentimental and high-value purchase.”