Last month, I had the pleasure of traveling to sunny Scottsdale, Arizona for the annual Centurion show and of catching up with retailers after the holiday season.
What I mostly heard was this: 2018 was a good year and jewelers were expecting a strong December, but the month took a dive alongside the stock market. And the events of late 2018/early 2019, including the 35-day government shutdown, have left retailers feeling unsure what to expect in the year ahead.
What is certain, however, is that this year is going to be very telling in terms of lab-grown diamonds. How will consumers take to the lines that are out there? Will they buy them for fashion jewelry or engagement rings? Will one brand or company begin to emerge as the dominant player in the space?
Read on for four thoughts on what lies ahead for the jewelry industry in 2019.
1. Retailers are feeling ________ about 2019
Cautiously optimistic. Concerned. Unsure. These are all words I heard circulating at Centurion after a disappointing December capped off an otherwise strong year in 2018.
What will happen with the trade war? Will there be another shutdown (this was talked about at Centurion, although the answer now seems to be no)? How much did the first one shake up consumers?
Are we headed for a recession? Recessions are especially problematic for jewelry because it’s a discretionary purchase; you don’t need to replace a ring the same way you need to replace a car or a refrigerator. As one retailer put it: “We’re the first thing to go.”
Another word that came up: nervous, and it’s not just retailers who are nervous.
“I think everybody is just nervous about everything,” one retailer from the south shared.
She said she feels like she has the right merchandise and marketing in place at her store, but whether people will buy is the big unknown at this point. She also noted that looming ahead of 2019 is a presidential election year and an election always “screws things up.”