Photo courtesy of JCK Las Vegas, RX
At the start of June, as has been the case for some 30 years, the jewelry industry’s attention will turn westward, and more specifically to the JCK Show, which will take place in 2023 at the Venetian Expo in Las Vegas from June 2 to 5.
It is billed by its organizers, RX, previous known as Reed Exhibitions, as the largest and most renowned jewelry trade event in the world. That today is questionable, with strong competition for the top spot from Hong Kong, but what cannot be argued is that it is perennially the most important trade event in the world’s largest and richest jewelry market.
With more 30,000 industry professionals – the general public is not permitted entry – from over 130 countries, it’s a global gathering of the people, products and innovation covering all major facets of the jewelry industry.
We are thrilled to deliver even more value and excitement to JCK Las Vegas 2023 – from extended registration hours to innovative show floor activations to an exciting concert and networking events, we have something for everyone. We are proud to partner with industry leaders to provide an unmatched experience for all attendees,” stated Sarin Bachmann, Group Vice President of RX’s jewelry portfolio, publicizing the events.
In good times and bad, there are very few players in the U.S. jewelry industry that will ignore the JCK Show week, which over the years has come to include a collection of satellite shows, where the most prominent is Couture, which starts one day earlier than the main event and closes a day before, at nearby Wynn Las Vegas.
Only the COVID pandemic ever really kept people away from Las Vegas, and that was in 2020. The following year the show did take place, albeit in a more modest fashion, but by 2022 it was back to full strength.
2023 UNLIKELY TO BE A RECORD-BREAKER
Market pundits will be watching the 2023 JCK Show closely. The general feeling in the U.S. market is that, while collapse is hardly imminent, 2023 is unlikely to be a record-breaker, certainly not in the positive sense.
Reporting on the month of April in the United States, market pundit Edahn Golan noted that fine jewelry sales were down 17.8 percent year over year – a figure outpaced by natural diamond jewelry sales, which were down 19.3 percent year over year. There were sharp declines in total value at every retail price point range, he reported, but they were most apparent in the very expensive jewelry ranges of more $20,000 per piece.
Sales of bridal jewelry declined 17.6 percent, and this was matched by fashion jewelry sales.
The engagement bubble, which was a phenomenon that came on the heels of the COVID lockdowns, is over, Golan noted. Bridal jewelry currently represents 20.2 percent of specialty jewelers’ sales, and he did not foresee it rising back to the levels set in 2021 and 2022.
Jewelry and diamond sales were remarkably resilient during the COVID crisis, in part because much of the market was flush with cash leading into it, and then faced with a limited number of options on how spend. But with the relaxation of pandemic restrictions in 2022, people who had been homebound began traveling again, meaning competition for the consumer’s disposable dollar got ever fiercer. Inflation then kicked in, and while 2023 did not quite tank, it clearly was not going to be a harbinger of serendipitous fortune.
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE LAGS
The mood in the U.S jewelry markets is reflected in the indicators of general consumer confidence. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index fell in April to 101.3 (1985=100), down from 104.0 in March.
The Present Situation Index—based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions—increased to 151.1 from 148.9 last in March. The Expectations Index—based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions—fell to 68.1 from 74.0.
The Expectations Index has now remained below 80—the level associated with a recession within the next year—every month since February 2022, with the exception of a brief uptick in December 2022.
“While consumers’ relatively favorable assessment of the current business environment improved somewhat in April, their expectations fell and remain below the level which often signals a recession looming in the short-term,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director, Economics at The Conference Board. “Consumers became more pessimistic about the outlook for both business conditions and labor markets. Compared to last month, fewer households expect business conditions to improve and more expect worsening of conditions in the next six months.
“April’s decline in consumer confidence replicates particular deterioration in expectations for consumers under 55 years of age and for households earning $50,000 and over,” Ozyildirim added.
Whether that will be replicated in results reported at the JCK in early June still remains to be seen.