Wednesday, May 24, 2017

More prolific purveyors of diamonds

The self-styled “Galleria of Jewelry” has been among the more prolific purveyors of diamonds in recent years. But its parent company revealed on Thursday that it’s been struggling to get shoppers into its 270 Jared stores. Same-store sales fell an unsettling 7.6 percent last quarter, Signet Jewelers Ltd. reported.

Much of the malaise came from its 24 locations in Texas, which accounted for half of the decline—something analysts tied to the oil glut. But Signet Chief Executive Officer Mark Light also blamed a presidential campaign season that has scared couples into closing their checkbooks. And not just for Jared, but industrywide.

It’s “a consumer mindset issue that relates to bridal,” Light said. “They just want to get some stability and understand what’s going on as a whole in the world, and what’s going on in the presidential election.”

He added: “Once we get through the elections, hopefully we’ll see some stability.”

Jared sells engagement rings and other sparkly jewelry in malls across America. Considered more upscale than its sister brands at Signet, Kay and Zales, Jared shops push more fine jewelry and diamonds than sterling silver and semiprecious stones. Its romantic (or cheesy, depending on your level of cynicism) television ads have long been on the airwaves, selling baubles to the middle-class man. “He went to Jared,” the woman in many ads would proclaim, thrusting her finger in the air, adorned with a glimmering diamond ring.

The reluctance of couples contemplating marriage is exceptionally bad news for Jared, which touts its diamond-encrusted rings for engagements, weddings, and anniversaries above all else–usually a safe bet because it’s such a stable segment.

Traffic was weak across the board for Signet, said Seema Shah, an analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. Fine jewelry is “a discretionary purchase, so people are spending less,” she said. That was especially apparent in energy-dependent regional economies where Jared has floundered.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-26/a-fraught-election-has-couples-and-jewelers-running-scared

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