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After Rough Patch, Jewelry Retail Business Sparkles
23 Dec 2010 EST - CNBC.com
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It seems that Americans want their diamond rings after all.

After a rough 2009 that saw the demise of several stores, jewelry merchants have emerged as the shining star of the retail sector this holiday, with chains from tony Tiffany

to mass-market Signet Jewelers' Sterling Jewelersposting robust sales gains.

Jewelry sales typically spike during the holidays as the category is a big gift purchase and because it’s a popular time of year for engagements.

And after a recession, more people get engaged, noted Paul Swinand, equity analyst for Morningstar.

But the rebound of the jewelry sector also reflects an uptick in spending among high income consumers as stock market gains have made affluent shoppers, feel, well, more affluent, once again.

What’s more, the jewelry retail sector has whittled down to fewer, stronger retailers who are benefiting from the pent-up demand for this highly emotional purchase, analysts said.

“Jewelry is a discretionary purchase. As Americans see that the economy is improving, slowly, they have begun to loosen their purse strings,” said Ken Gassman, president and founder of the Jewelry Industry Research Institute.

“Shopping is culturally ingrained in Americans—for better or worse,” Gassman said. “So, when there's money available, Americans go shopping.”

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