In the second instalment of Professional Jeweller’s Lockdown Diaries series, we get the lowdown from David Mellor Jewellers and Judith Hart Jewellers on what’s keeping them busy through lockdown 3.0.

The pair describe ‘frantically’ trying to outperform the competition in the e-commerce side of things as consumers look to online more and more.

Head of sales and marketing at her family store, Amy Mellor of David Mellor Jewellers reports a difficult Christmas period, though not without cause for optimism.

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She said: “December was quite a steady month for us and, despite the circumstances, we saw a 4.76% increase to our store turnover for that month alone, though it sadly wasn’t growth all-round as our in-store transaction numbers took a 34.7% drop.

“The increased ATV definitely helped us through a tough winter, alongside our online store which saw its turnover increase by 117%.

“On the whole, business was looking good and despite the drop in footfall, our customers were happy to spend their hard-earned money with us – which we do not take for granted in this climate.”

She then described the process of improving the shop’s website, and what else has kept the family occupied through this third lockdown.

“Since the first lockdown,” Mellor explained, “we’ve been rather frantically photographing and uploading as much of our stock onto our website as possible, though I’m sure we’re in the same boat as many jewellers in that we possibly have too much stock so it’s not a mean feat!

“But as our father always says, ‘There’s a face for everything’, so that’s kept my brothers and I very busy!

“We are in the process of ‘lockdown-proofing’ our business, so that we don’t lose out on repair work which is a huge portion of our yearly turnover, along with pre-owned jewellery and watches, much of which we buy-in from the public.

“As much as we’d love to say that the lockdown means a slower pace for us, if anything it’s more frantic and sadly not leaving a great deal of room for our creative juices to flow.”

Mellor expresses her thanks for the government’s furlough scheme, which she labels “the greatest saviour”, and finishes by explaining that the business is going above and beyond to limit the spread of the virus.

She concluded: “We will not be offering a click-and-collect service as we feel it completely goes against the premise of staying at home, and we don’t wish to encourage anyone to leave the safety of their homes.

“We are still open for business through our website, but we’re limiting our dispatch days to just once a week, to also reduce our exposure to this virus. With one family member having contracted it recently, we can vouch that it’s to be taken seriously.”

Judith Hart, of Judith Hart Jewellers, tells PJ that she feels her business has suffered due to its location.

“My business is within a major shopping centre for the area and we probably suffered as many consumers were staying local and shopping on high streets,” she said.

“The particular centre where I am located did the most that they could to encourage shoppers to return, including monitoring the malls and offering free car parking.

“As a business, we concentrated mainly on the fewer number of customers by ensuring they had the best possible shopping experience in a safe and very festive store. I particularly wanted to bring that festive spirit to the store in an attempt to restore a little normality into what is a very difficult time.”

Meanwhile, Hart admitted that the current store closure due to lockdown has given her some time for reflection on her business.

“Our approach has been from two levels during the lockdown. Firstly, to improve our online offering and to concentrate on social media as an ‘in-tandem’ sales opportunity.

“This includes offering free delivery for online sales and ensuring that the stock is dispatched promptly.

“Secondly, I was due to look at a store refit in 2020, which incidentally was our 40-year business anniversary. This had to be put on hold, but being closed I will now have the opportunity to work on this plan and ultimately be in a position to carry out the work later in the year.”

Lastly, Hart thanks the store’s customers for their response to its previously mentioned 40th anniversary last year.

“The response that we had from our customers was amazing. Cards, chocolates, celebratory bottles and so many calls of support, together with a week of Covid-safe offers and instore appointments,” she said.

“It was a joyous and happy time for both staff and customers to remember and relive precious memories of a business that has become a part of their life.”