CMJ have polled their annual Christmas trading survey and the results are contrasting, but one thing everyone experienced was a slow December with the ‘rush’ not starting until the week before Christmas.

Of the CMJ Retail Members who were surveyed regarding December 2017 trading versus December 2016; 44% said sales were worse, 29% said sales were better, 17% said the same and 10% mentioned very low footfall, some retailers added that the sales of fewer but higher ticket items, saved the period. In reference to Black Friday 52% of respondents participated in some kind of offers.

A resounding 98% of retailers observed that the Christmas rush, or their busiest week didn’t happen until week commencing 18 December, right up until closing time on Christmas Eve. Last minute spikes in store footfall were experienced on 23 -24 December after online deliveries were no longer guaranteed.

Retailers with an online store reported that sales were better than 2016 and several retailers noted that they were planning to get websites up and running for 2018 Christmas sales to be able to compete with Amazon and bigger digital players. One retailer remarked; “Christmas sales were particularly poor this year. In mid December, we were 50% down which I attribute to a combination of severe weather (snow) and more sales going to Black Friday /Cyber Monday internet sales. Trading did improve slightly especially in the three days prior to Christmas, but we still finished the period down.”

Jewellery brands that performed well were Pandora, Clogau, Swarovski and Nomination with watch brands Bering and Citizen also selling well. The pooled average price spent on a gift was £134 with the lowest price point quoted being £15 and the highest £850.

In terms of the type of jewellery people have been buying there was a noticeable portion of comments from retailers saying that customers were edging more towards more unique designed and fine jewellery. Dominic Wakefield from Wakefields Jewellers remarked; “There was less footfall but thankfully higher than average sales with a trend back towards non-branded fine jewellery. We were fortunate to experience some decent higher end sales in December which fuelled our growth on like-for-like sales.”

The most popular pieces of jewellery sold during the Christmas period were ranked;

#1 diamond rings

#2 charms

#3 diamond earrings

#4 earrings

#5 gemstone rings

#6 bracelets and bangles (some diamond set)

The CMJ Approved Suppliers were also surveyed and they too experienced a mixed bag of results. On the Christmas sell-in period 42% found retailers bought around the same time as 2016, 37% of retailers bought later and 21% bought earlier, but most suppliers have reported good sales. Year on year sales figures for suppliers that responded were generally up, with a few reporting increases ranging from 20% to 80%.

In terms of best-selling product ranges leading was diamond jewellery - rings, bracelet and earrings, rings with unusual designs and coloured gemstones also did well along with silver jewellery. Barry Mislin from Amore was pleased with trading overall, “We saw a return to higher priced gold, diamond and coloured stone jewellery. The continual investment back in to diamond and coloured stone dress rings paid big dividends.”

Those suppliers with an online website, although a small segment, reported a better performance than 2016.

Christmas shopping
Christmas shopping

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