Jewelry Stores

SIC 5944

Industry report:

This industry consists of establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of jewelry, such as diamonds and other precious stones mounted in precious metals and sold as rings, pins, or bracelets; sterling and plated silverware; and watches and clocks. Establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of costume jewelry are classified in SIC 5632: Women's Accessory and Specialty Stores.

According to Dun & Bradstreet, there were approximately 41,359 establishments engaged in the retail sale of jewelry in 2009 with the total number of people employed in this industry at about 164,507. States with the highest number of establishments were California with 5,990, Texas with 4,043, New York with 3,798, Florida with 3,583, Pennsylvania with 1,532,New Jersey with 1,530, Illinois with 1,354, Ohio with 1,162, Georgia with 1,143, and North Carolina with 1,040. All jewelry stores combined to generate total market sales of $16.57 billion. New York led all cities with a market share of nearly $4.29 billion.

The retail fine jewelry industry is divided into two types of enterprises: chain stores and independents, with chain stores predominant. The early 1990s ushered in a recessionary era of poor sales and bankruptcies, but the industry had regained valuable footing by mid-decade. By the end of the decade, U.S. annual fine jewelry and watch sales totaled $52.1 billion. A strong economy and low unemployment had served to boost the sale of luxury goods, including jewelry, as the industry headed into 2000s. However, since the jewelry industry is cyclical in nature, retailers know that when the economy turns down and consumer discretionary spending slows, they are hit first. Thus, when the U.S. housing market collapsed and the banking crisis ensued during the late 2000s, the jewelry industry felt the impact. The recessionary conditions of high unemployment and low consumer confidence during 2008 and 2009 caused sales to decline significantly.

In the independent jewelry retail business, participants have fought a tough battle to maintain their identity in the competitive jewelry business. One such tactic was the introduction of in-house credit cards, engineered by retailers and their banks. Such lines of credit boost sales and often provide the customer with a much lower interest rate and better terms. Independent retailers also promote high levels of customer service and value-added services such as jewelry repair.

As retail jewelers entered the twenty-first century, they faced heavy competition from mass merchants, such as online vendors, home shopping channels, mail-order firms, and discounters. The JCOC's 2007 Year in Review reported that purchasing jewelry over the Internet accounted for between 25 to 33 percent of purchases according to purchasers they surveyed. However, the primary destinations were auction sites such as eBay and Bidz.com rather than jewelers' websites. This shift in consumer habits was a concern for jewelers who had believed it would be easier to turn a sale with the product in hand.

Some retail jewelers began offering synthetic diamonds at a fraction of the cost of the natural diamond during the mid-2000s. Apollo Diamond Inc. located in Framingham, Massachusetts, and Gemesis Corp. of Sarasota, Florida, have manufactured synthetic diamonds within a laboratory setting versus deep down in the earth. There has been tremendous response to the new technology. Apollo has in fact began selling its yellow synthetic diamonds throughout various retailers. The popularity for colored stones remained strong, and Gemesis was working on different shades; in 2005, they altered their attention from direct retail-based sales to jewelry manufacturers and designers.

According to U.S. Census Bureau, the industry had more than $30.7 billion in retail sales in 2007, an increase of about $1.8 billion from the 2006 total. Of that, the holiday months dominated with about 21 percent occurring in December followed by nearly 9 percent in November. However, December's figures were down by $214 million from the previous year while November's figures actually rose by $132 million. Other key industry holiday months were May with Mother's Day (nearly $2.7 billion in sales) and February with Valentine's Day (more than $2.5 billion in sales). Also, a study by the Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council (JCOC) indicated that Father's Day gift-giving of jewelry and watches tied for second among all purchases with power tools, trailing only clothing purchases. For June 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau reported sales of more than $2.2 billion.

The U.S. economy crashed in 2008 and left the luxury industries floundering through the holiday season in 2009, causing double-digit declines in sales. In its annual "State of the Majors" report in 2010, National Jeweler noted: "The days of expanding operations--and unfortunately, growing sales--came to a halt for most of the nation's largest jewelry retailers in 2009. These days, both their operations and price points are smaller." Large chain jewelers reacted to the tough economic environment by shrinking operations. According to National Jeweler, the top 50 retail chains closed a combined 339 stores in 2009 (a 6 percent decrease) and 891 stores in 2008 (a 13 percent decrease), bringing the total number of stores down to 5,639.

Stores also engaged in other strategies to cut costs and attract a dwindling and increasingly cost-conscious customer base. For example, some stores began offering lower quality goods, such as jewelry made from stainless steel, using gold and silver accents. Other stores began replacing 14-carat inventory with more 10-carat inventory. Discounts were deeper and margins thinner. Of the 32 largest retailers based on sales, 24 had depressed sales during 2009. Among some of the biggest losers were the jewelry divisions of Neiman Marcus, down 27 percent, and J.C. Penney, down 24 percent. Amazon.com continued to flex its muscles in the industry as the only company among the top performers to post as double digit gain of 13 percent.

By 2010, as the U.S. economy showed signs of stabilization, the retail industry showed signs of improvement. For example, Zales Corporation's same-store sales increased 8.5 percent for November and December 2010, compared to the same period of 2009. However, such increases are relative to the dismal performance of 2009. "The Holiday sales results represent progress as we continue to stabilize the business and return to profitability," Theo Killion, Zale's Chief Executive Officer, told Diamond Intelligence Briefs.

Founded in 1924, the Irving, Texas-based Zale Corp. was the largest retail-only jewelry company in the United States in the late 2000s. posted sales of $1.78 billion in 2009, down from $2.1 billion and $2.4 billion in 2008 and 2007, respectively. Stores operate under the names Zales Jewelers; Zales Outlets; Peoples Jewellers; Gordon's Jewelers; Mappins Jewellers; Piercing Pagoda; and the e-commerce ZLC Direct.

Sterling Jewelers Inc. was the U.S. subsidiary of the world's largest jeweler, Signet Jewelers Ltd., headquartered in Bermuda. In 2009, Sterling had 1,361 U.S. retail outlets and 2009 revenues of $2.56 billion. The company featured the popular Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry brands.

These two companies, Zales and Sterling, dominated the retail store segment in terms of number of stores. In third place was Fred Meyers Jewelers with 376 stores, Helzberg Diamonds with 235 stores, and Ultra Stores, Inc. with 175 stores. In terms of revenues generated by jewelry sales, Wal-Mart led the nation with an estimated $2.75 billion in jewelry and watch sales, followed by Sterling, Zales, Macys (estimated $1.4 billion), and Tiffany's (estimated $1.39 billion).

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News and information about Jewelry Stores

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US Fed News Service, Including US State News; May 4, 2018; 454 words
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US Fed News Service, Including US State News; July 22, 2017; 700+ words
...federal jury of robbing two Hialeah jewelry stores and attempting to rob a third...Bernal conspired to and robbed two jewelry stores in Hialeah, Florida. A third...The defendants would monitor the jewelry stores for months, including surveilling...
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...federal jury of robbing two Hialeah jewelry stores and attempting to rob a third...Bernal conspired to and robbed two jewelry stores in Hialeah, Florida. A third...The defendants would monitor the jewelry stores for months, including surveilling...
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...admitted committing the armed robberies of several jewelry stores in the Dallas - Fort Worth (DFW) area, was sentenced...conspired to rob, and did rob, the below-listed jewelry stores located in shopping malls in the DFW area, of more...
Armed and Violent Jewelry Store Robbers Get Lengthy Federal Prison Sentences; Mesquite Man and His Dallas Co-Conspirator Robbed Jewelry Stores in DFW-Area Shopping Malls
States News Service; June 5, 2015; 616 words
...admitted committing the armed robberies of several jewelry stores in the Dallas--Fort Worth (DFW) area, was sentenced...conspired to rob, and did rob, the below-listed jewelry stores located in shopping malls in the DFW area, of more...

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