On November 24, 2022, Americans will gather at home for the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal, and several hours later will kick off what each year is the most five weeks in the calendar year, the holiday season. Typically, jewelry stores expect to make somewhat north of 20 percent of their annual sales during December.
According to diamond industry analyst Edahn Golan, some in the industry felt a bit of trepidation heading towards Christmas. Following an exceptionally strong 2021, jewelry sales fell 11.1 percent in October, while retail diamond sales declined 19.3 percent.
But, stated Golan, “don’t let the declines create an impression of a down market.” The reason, he states is that we are comparing it to 2021, which in so many respect was a year lived in reaction to 2020, when business ground to a near halt because of the COVID crisis.
Compared to 2019, which he termed as a “the last ordinary year” for the jewelry industry had, sales this year outperformed the years ago every single month.
“This is a positive outcome for the market,” Golan stated.
There are two positive trends to keep an eye out for, Golan suggests. The first is that consumer jewelry demand is starting to return to its historical cycle, which means down in the early summer, but up in August, down again September and October, and then up in November and December.
The second trend is an overall growing jewelry demand, which is better than before the pandemic.
For its part, the National Retail Federation expects holiday spending is expected to be healthy, even with recent inflationary challenges. It forecasts that retail sales in general during November and December will grow between 6 percent and 8 percent over 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion.
Last year’s holiday sales grew 13.5 percent over 2020, totaling $889.3 billion and shattering previous records, NRF stated. Holiday retail sales have averaged an increase of 4.9 percent over the past 10 years, with pandemic spending in recent years accounting for considerable gains.
“While consumers are feeling the pressure of inflation and higher prices, and while there is continued stratification with consumer spending and behavior among households at different income levels, consumers remain resilient and continue to engage in commerce,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “In the face of these challenges, many households will supplement spending with savings and credit to provide a cushion and result in a positive holiday season.”
NRF expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, to increase between 10 percent and 12 percent to between $262.8 billion and $267.6 billion, up from up from $238.9 billion last year, which saw extraordinary growth in digital.
While ecommerce will remain important, households are also expected to shift back to in-store shopping and a more traditional holiday shopping experience, the NRF forecast.
CONSUMERS REMAIN STEADFAST
“This holiday season cycle is anything but typical,” stated NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz, who stressed that the overall outlook is generally positive as consumer fundamentals continue to support economic activity. Despite record levels of inflation, rising interest rates and low levels of confidence, consumers have been steadfast in their spending and remain in the driver’s seat, he said.
“The holiday shopping season kicked off earlier this year – a growing trend in recent years – as shoppers are concerned about inflation and availability of products,” Kleinhenz said. “
NRF’s consumer data shows that consumers have been kicking off their holiday shopping early over the last decade in order to spread out their budgets and avoid the stress of holiday shopping.
This year, given concerns around inflation, 46 percent of holiday shoppers said they planned to browse or buy before November, according to NRF’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics – not necessarily given a good sign given the slowing of jewelry sales in October
Still, NRF says that consumers plan to spend $832.84 on average on gifts and holiday items, in line with the average for the last 10 years.
NRF’s holiday forecast is in line with the organization’s full year forecast for retail sales, which predicted retail sales will grow between 6 percent and 8 percent to more than $4.86 trillion in 2022.