US jewelry sales doubled in March 2021, compared to 2020, and were up 30% compared to 2019.
This continues a steady trend which actually began last summer.
From Macy’s to Tiffany
In September 2020 Bloomberg reported that diamond jewelry had been one of the top product categories at both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s over the quarter ending August 1. Signet jewelers, the parent of Kay and Jared, saw positive August sales which continued to climb into September. Tiffany & company reported the same trend.
Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said in an interview:
All the high-end products are very strong. Well-heeled shoppers are looking to spend the money that would ordinarily go toward trips or meals, and some are even dropping more than $50,000 on jewelry, he said. You think about the discretionary spend that’s coming from experiences.
Revenge spending spreads
The term “revenge spending” describes spending by a consumer base that finds itself flush with cash after weeks of canceled plans. A consumer base anxious to feel normal again. The term was coined in China decades ago to describe pent-up consumer demand, unleashed in the 1980s after their Cultural Revolution. Unsurprisingly that same trend repeated itself in China in 2020, months earlier than it began the USA, as cities there emerged from the pandemic:
- Shoppers spent a record-breaking 2.7M USD in a Hermès Flagship stores in Guangzhou the day it re-opened.
- Tesla sold a record number of cars in the spring, growing by 450% month over month.
- LVMH saw a 50-percent rise in sales of its top brands on the mainland during April.
Pandemic engagements soar
In October 2020 a survey conducted by the U.K.’s Open University revealed that more than 25% of respondents said their relationship with their partner has improved during the pandemic. The reasons given included more quality time, improved communications, more meaningful emotional support and time taken for thoughtful gestures. An October Brides.com 2020 wedding survey had even stronger findings, as four in five couples (82%) said living through the pandemic made them want to marry their significant other more. Similarly, Signet Jewelers ran a survey showing that 48% of couples quarantining together feel their relationship had strengthened, 12% had sped up plans to propose, and most were planning to splurge more than usual during the 2020 holiday season.
Diamond prices strengthen
In November 2020 industry analyst Edahn Golan predicted the rising trajectory of jewelry sales and consumer demand for “more but lasting” seemed to forecast a very positive US holiday season for jewelry, especially with the chaos of the presidential election behind us. As he predicted, diamond prices strengthened as consumers gifted luxury goods and splurged on bridal items as a comforting reward for making it through the pandemic.
In January 2021 Signet’s stock climber more than 6% after reporting their same store sales from November 1 2020 – January 2, 2021 were up 5.6% compared to 2019. Most notably, the jeweler’s e-commerce sales had risen a staggering 61%, year over year, primarily due to their new “Path to Brilliance” program, providing digital solutions for shoppers. The enhanced shopping experience offered virtual appointments, access to experts, online events and an improved website experience. These things were supplemented on the back side with new delivery initiatives including product shipping and “BOPIS” (Buy Online Pickup In-Store). The focus on digital service and delivery paid off, increasing fulfillment capacity by 500% and operating with distribution partners who successfully delivered >98% of North American customer orders on time.
This is now
Last month US jewelry sales soared by 106% compared to March 2020, helped by stimulus payments and reopenings across the country. According to Rapaport and Mastercard SpendingPulse:
Sales in the category increased 106% year on year during the month, also benefiting from a strong base comparison with March of last year, the first month in which US retail was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, Mastercard said last week. However, sales of jewelry also rose 30% when compared with March 2019, reflecting a release of pent-up demand.
Spending in all retail categories climbed 26% year on year, and 14% since March 2019, while e-commerce revenue surged 57% versus March 2020 and 86% compared to the same month of 2019. The increase against the lower base comparison of 2020 was most noticeable in the latter part of the month, Mastercard explained. Sales in the first half of March increased 1.6% over the same period last year, before much of the country was in lockdown. The figure jumped 47% in the second half.
The importance of jewelry
It’s uplifting to know that people can turn to jewelry for comfort in difficult times. It doesn’t matter how big or small. Whether it’s the simplest trinket or a treasure dripping with diamonds, there’s no denying the powerful symbolism of our beloved enduring icons.