Oh. For the days when Gene Autrey was on television singing “and never is heard a discouraging word”! Well, today the media is serving up a steady diet of bad news and retailers in the fashion industry are getting a little jittery about their Christmas season. Fear sells more newspapers than comfort so negatives are receiving too much emphasis. With 25 years of experience in the wholesale fashion jewelry industry, we have seen our share of economic downturns. Some barely affected business and none were as bleak as the media is painting the picture now. So get ready for a feel-good tour through encouraging facts that can have a positive effect on your business.
First, there’s gas prices that have fallen nearly in half and add a nice piece of change to the family budget like a stimulus check every week. Second, the election is over so all the hype of candidates beating each other up to get the job is behind us. Much of this spills over to the economy and is magnified by the media, making most presidential election years slower.
Third, many areas of the country are barely feeling a slowdown. Take Texas and Louisiana, for example, where oil is more important than manufacturing. Houston shares the highest creation of new jobs with the Norfolk, Va. area, which can only mean a robust economy. Louisiana, according to the La. Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association, is number one producer of crude and number two in refining with 4.5 jobs spinning off from every job in the industry. These good paying jobs are safe, adding stability to the economy. Of course unemployment is up overall, but a report released at the end of October by the Bureau of Labor names several other areas where unemployment is dropping-facts the news isn’t giving us.
OK, so maybe things aren’t as bad as the picture that is being painted on television, but the customers see this stuff and consumer confidence is tanking. That has to be bad for retail sales, right? Historically, this isn’t true for businesses with moderately priced fashion jewelry and accessories. Look up the article, Fashion Jewelry, Fuel, and the Economy, which provides details of economic downturns dating back to the early eighties and the small effect this had on fashion businesses.
Actually fashion jewelry and accessories have plenty of built in advantages. Let’s begin with the woman who feels she needs to tighten her budget. Adding fresh accessories or fashion jewelry to last year’s wardrobe updates looks nicely at a far more affordable cost. Some of this will be happening this season so retailers need to be sure their fashion jewelry selection is fine-tuned to deliver an updated look.
Another advantage fashion jewelry has for a retailer is the “feel-good” experience. A steady diet of bad news almost drives women to go out and find some new little item to lift their spirits. Fashion jewelry fills this need so well, especially if you keep the jewelry selection in today’s trends of classic looks that reflect quality. Gemstone jewelry, including turquoise and other semi precious stones fulfills this look with necklace sets and bracelets that are not only hot in current fashion trends, but deliver quality with perceived intrinsic value. Glass jewelry, especially Murano style glass, also delivers quality with eye-pleasing designs that are wearable art.
Affordable quality is key to most of the feel-good sales in fashion jewelry, but some stores are seeing a turn to the wilder side that they attribute to escapism. JC Report quotes Jenny Le of Opening Ceremony as saying “To some degree, there’s an element of fantasy going on-our customers are buying more daring pieces, perhaps to escape from what’s going on in the world”. Still the safe bet is classic looks in fashion jewelry that reflect quality.
Then there’s the talk of major retailers cutting back Christmas orders and expecting a slow holiday season. These cut backs are 10% to15%, which is not catastrophic and anyone who thinks Christmas shopping is going to drop dead can dispel the thought by taking a ride to the mall the day after Thanksgiving. I’m sure they’re going to run into a parking problem.
Besides, small retailers have a huge inventory advantage over the majors because they can order to need and receive goods in a week or less, while the majors place orders months in advance. Small retailers can make hairpin turns, satisfy the needs of specific customers, and feel the pulse of the local community. The majors don’t have this flexibility. This amounts to far better inventory control for small retailers.
The final and most important ingredient for a successful season in fashion jewelry and accessories is none other than you, the retailer. Remember the customers that are going out to buy because they need a feel-good experience? We owe it to them to deliver that uplifting experience. Set aside any economic worries and make their buying trip fun and positive. This is worth more than the fashion jewelry and accessories that are on display.