Industry Forum 2022: Leading Edge Jewellery – Claire Packett, Head of Jewellery at Leading Edge Retail

Looking back over the past five years what differences in sales have your members experienced during pre-pandemic, pandemic and post pandemic periods? During lockdowns over…

Looking back over the past five years what differences in sales have your members experienced during pre-pandemic, pandemic and post pandemic periods?

During lockdowns over the past two years, sales were extremely challenging for most jewellery stores. However, as restrictions eased there was a return to good trade. Many stores expressed there was little need to reduce the RRP to earn a sale.

With a lack of overseas travel, there has been more expendable income and jewellery stores have benefited from this, whether it’s through special purchases or remodelling pieces that sat dormant in drawers for a long period of time. With omicron, there has been another wave of hesitancy in retailing. However, if patterns follow previous trends, then postpandemic sales should be strong.

Over the same periods has there been a difference in average spending?

The average dollar has increased over this period. Information from Retail Edge shows that during the past two years the average dollar increased, in some categories by over 20%. Predictably, the most dramatic area of increase has been Pink Diamonds. With the closure of the Argyle mine and limited supply in the marketplace, the public’s romance with Pink Diamonds is ever increasing. This is leading to a huge growth in sales and demand.

2020 Christmas saw a great comeback to trade across many industries and jewellery was no exception. How did 2021 numbers stack up?

Christmas 2021 was a strong sales period for most jewellery stores across the board. Stores prepared for their Christmas trade early this year, with the end of lockdown in October and November for NSW and Victoria. Stores were prepped and ready to trade the moment they were able to reopen their doors. The states that were not in lockdown were able to flow through the period seamlessly.

What difficulties are your members experiencing in achieving maximum sales?

The difficulties of the past two years have arisen from uncertainty and the unknown. Retailers can keep ahead of trends, keep an eye on their OTB and balance sheets, and run a tight ship, but extended lockdowns, restrictions, and general fear of this pandemic cannot be easily overcome. The key is to build online shopping experiences that keep your business relevant, sustainable, and moving forward. Marketing your online presence and driving customers to your website should be tactics on everyone’s radar.

Even though the trend to shop online is here to stay, customers want to shop locally and support small local businesses to survive and thrive, and this is likely to be a key driver of sales in 2022. Marketing your in-store experience, customer service, unique brand story and community involvement can capitalise on this trend and differentiate your store in the marketplace. The ability for customers to also touch, physically try on and see jewellery in real life, can’t be replicated online. Promoting your ‘in-store only’ offers and using marketing tools like loyalty cards and gift cards to help create a sense of community and drive repeat business will also benefit jewellers.

What will you be doing differently in 2022 to drive your members forward?

This year will be about reaffirming your position in the marketplace, the growth of online, adaption to how the public want to shop, and exceptional customer service.

Jewellery is still very much a bricks and mortar proposition, and customer service will be the number one driver for all jewellers to move forward, re-establish and grow their clientele. At Leading Edge Retail, we’re working hard to ensure our members have more time to work on their business rather than in it. Our ability to draw advice and experience from many different retail categories and deliver savings and opportunities to members can’t be found elsewhere. This, alongside being able to offer product that supports all the basic stock requirements of a store, is unique in the market.

In 2021, we launched several services and solutions, such as ‘bid or buy’ – a platform for members to access amazing deals direct from suppliers, across seven industries. We also launched the Australian Jewellery Warehouse (AJW)– a direct-to-public jewellery sales website to help members sell old and slow-moving stock and still make a profit. Plus, we launched a B2B ordering platform to make it quick and easy for members to place orders. We’ll look at introducing suppliers onto the platform in the next 12 months.

To help small, independent retailers respond to changing consumer needs, this month we’re announcing a nationwide initiative called Local Like Us. This focuses on providing members with free, tangible support to attract and retain new customers in 2022 and will include promoting their businesses to over 1 million new potential consumers.

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