Diamond stud earrings, big-ticket pendants and tennis bracelets were hot sellers this holiday season, surprising even the executives at Signet Jewelers Ltd.
With the pandemic still keeping Americans mostly confined to their homes, shoppers are spending cash normally meant for going-out on more tangible luxuries, said Gina Drosos, Signet’s chief executive officer.
“Date night has been redefined from going out to dinner and a movie to watching something on Netflix with a glass of Champagne,” she said in an interview. “Travel and meaningful experiences can get replaced by something more lasting.”
The owner of Kay, Jared and Zales offered a look Thursday at how those trends played out during the holiday season. For the nine weeks ended January 2, preliminary same-store sales rose 5.6% from the year prior, including a 7.8 percent improvement in North America. Store traffic remains down as shoppers avoid malls, but global online sales were up more than 60 percent.
Signet’s shares jumped as much as 8.6 percent Thursday in New York. They rose 25 percent last year.
While many Americans are struggling, leading to a surge in unemployment claims, others that are lucky enough to hold steady jobs are finding themselves with fewer expenses and more cash.
Sales of high-value items were “very strong” during the holidays, Drosos said. And shoppers are increasingly willing to buy pricey diamond jewellery online, especially when helped along by a virtual consultant.
The pandemic forced Signet to rush out all sorts of new digital capabilities it had invested in over the past three years, including online personal shopping and buy-online-pickup-in-store. Drosos has said lots of these pandemic-era initiatives will become mainstays as consumer behaviour has permanently shifted.
As Democrats take control of Congress and the White House, jewellers could be in line for another bounce on the prospect of a new round of stimulus checks.
“We hope that they come in time for Valentine’s Day,” Drosos said.
By Kim Bhasin.