US Specialty Jewelers Losing Share of WalletJuly 13, 15
(IDEX Online News) – American shoppers have stepped up their spending on jewelry over the past 10 years, but specialty jewelers have lost both market share and consumers’ share of wallet. Instead, shoppers are spending their jewelry dollars at multi-line merchants like Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney, Costco and others, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Specialty jewelers – those chains and independent merchants whose primary business is selling fine jewelry and watches – are a diminishing segment of the overall US jewelry retail industry. According to the BLS data, their contribution to the American economy has waned over the past decade as they have fallen out of favor with American shoppers. In contrast, the economic contribution and market share from jewelry sales at multi-line retailers has continued to increase over the 10-year period 2004-2014.
The total number of specialty jewelry retail employees, along with the total number of specialty jewelry stores, has fallen significantly since 2004, according to the BLS. Total wages paid by specialty jewelers to their employees has remained roughly stagnant over the past 10 years, and industry pay scales are low, making it difficult to attract qualified employees who can sell high-ticket luxury goods.
There is some good news for specialty jewelers, despite these disappointing industry statistics: jewelers’ sales per store and sales per employee have risen notably, while the number of employees per store has fallen. This means that specialty jewelers’ store operations have become more efficient, and profits should be stronger.
Here are the key findings from the new BLS data for the US jewelry industry:
The specialty jewelry industry has lost nearly 35,000 employees since 2004. In 2014, there were 121,732 employees working in specialty jewelers’ stores, down from 156,475 10 years earlier, a decline of 22 percent over the 10-year period. The only good news is that jewelry industry retail employment has picked up from a recession low of 118,000 employees. The graph below illustrates employment trends in the US jewelry industry from 2004 through 2014.
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