The Mastercard SpendingPulse report shows sales for the 2019 holiday season increased 3.4% (excluding automobiles), with online sales growing a whopping 18.8% compared to 2018.  The report provides insights into overall retail spending trends across all payment types, including cash and check.

According to Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated, “E-commerce sales hit a record high this year with more people doing their holiday shopping online.”  “Due to a later than usual Thanksgiving holiday, we saw retailers offering omnichannel sales earlier in the season, meeting consumers’ demand for the best deals across all channels and devices.”

The Mastercard SpendingPulse report details holiday shopping from November 1 through December 24. Key findings of the report indicate that this was a winning holiday season for retail, especially for e-commerce:

  • Total Apparel saw a gain, posting 1 percent growth year over year. The category also experienced stronger than expected e-commerce growth, up 17 percent compared to 2018.
  • The Jewelry sector experienced 1.8 percent growth in total retail sales, with online sales growing 8.8 percent – supporting eCommerce strength. This trend started before the holiday season and helped the sector power through to its finish.
  • Department stores saw overall sales decline 1.8 percent and online sales growth of 6.9 percent, emphasizing the importance of omnichannel offerings.
  • Electronics and appliances were up 4.6 percent, while the home furniture and furnishings category grew 1.3 percent.

So how can retailers in the jewelry industry use this key data to keep the good news coming in 2020?  Take a moment to acknowledge the economy is strong, which means people are spending, and make your customers your top priority for the upcoming year.  Today’s consumer will spend, but they want a personalized experience, and traditional business models are too disconnected to provide what they are looking for.  Use the first month of 2020 to examine every part of your customers shopping interactions with you, from initial contact to completed transaction, and watch your business grow in ways you never imagined.

It’s not a secret that customers want to be treated special. But today’s consumer wants to special service on a personalized level. If you’re ready to deliver what your customer is looking for, then start with my top 5 tips to help create the 2020 shopping experience your customers want, and deserve!

#1)  Make e-commerce work for you.  While the jewelry sector as a whole experienced a 1.8% growth in total retail sales, online sales did exceptionally well in the jewelry sector, and grew 8.8% year over year from 2018 – 2019.  This trend started before the holiday season, and helped the sector power through to its finish. 

If you don’t have an e-commerce enabled website, then use tools such as email blasts and social media to provide “exclusive offers” on merchandise that you want to move to customers who want to buy.  Checking email is the #1 activity on the Internet, with 94% of Internet users logging on for this specific reason alone.  Email marketing is not dead!  Get creative, and stay consistent with, your email marketing plan for 2020 and watch your online sales grow.

#2)  Customize, customize, customize!  The world of creative and personalized designs is unlimited in the jewelry industry.  From monograms to hour of birth gemstones, you have a world of opportunities available to you.  Think beyond a simple “jewelry redesign,” and expand into developing custom collaborated lifestyle collections that reflect the unique needs and tastes of every customer you serve.

#3)   Say goodbye to the Decade of the Millennial, and hello to Generation Z.  While online shopping growth continues to outpace growth of brick-and-mortar, physical stores still represent a majority of sales in most categories. According to a survey by A.T. Kearney, consumers ages 14 to 24 overwhelmingly prefer to do their shopping in stores, largely for mental health reasons. Eighty-one percent of Gen Z respondents said they prefer to purchase in stores, and 73% said they like to discover new products in stores.

Brick-and-mortar stores allow for a new type of “retail therapy,” with 58% of the group saying browsing shelves and clothing racks allows them to disconnect from social media and the digital world.

#4)  Accept the importance of consumer demand for sustainable products.  As industry icon Andrea Hill wrote in her article, “The Challenge of Creating Responsible Jewelry,” the concept of producing environmentally and socially responsible jewelry is hardly new, but it seems to be hitting mainstream channels with greater frequency.

Now is the time to make an effort to truly understand what “sustainability” within the jewelry industry means, and decide how you are going to address customer expectations on the topic, and in your merchandise, when you are asked.

#5)  Don’t miss out on the “Resale Retail” market.  2019 was a banner year for the resale market, with companies like The RealReal becoming the first resale brand to file for an initial public offering and ThredUp teaming with Macy’s and JCPenney to sell secondhand goods in select stores. Moving into 2020, experts say the momentum around resale will continue, especially as consumer sentiment around sustainability grows stronger. 

Consider adding or increasing your visibility in the retail resale market through trunk shows, special events and buying opportunities that focus on the estate and antique jewelry market, and expand these offerings within your store.

Want to know more about how data from the recent 2019 holiday sales season is shaping the vision for 2020 retail, have questions about this article or want to suggest a topic for me to cover in future blogs? I’d love to hear from you! Email me at today!

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