Houston, We’ve Got A Problem.
If you are one (of the many) upscale, fine jewelry retailers who did not see their sales go through the roof this holiday season, or if you are one (of the many) upscale, fine jewelry retailers who saw a reduction in their average sale, or if you are one (of the many) upscale, fine jewelry retailers who did not see their best customers return, you are not alone. Misleading business headlines aside, the really fine jewelry business (being retailers who do not depend on an average sale of $150 – $500 or a string of silver beads to make their year) is facing a problem.
Here’s the reason why:
We boomers, the largest and most materialistic generation, are aging. We boomers, who spend the most amount of money in high-end, big-ticket fashion jewelry, have had enough. Will there always be rich boomers who never have enough? Sure. But, overall, the group is doing any one of the following:
Retiring, moving, traveling, supporting or helping children (or grandchildren), or dying from the stress we caused ourselves by not saving. Or, maybe it’s the stress we didn’t cause ourselves by having to work longer to replenish our 401Ks or stock portfolios, which have diminished in spite of our leaders telling us the economy is good! But wait, don’t you all realize gas is cheaper? I mean we can all get in our cars and drive. Everything must be better. Unless, of course, you’re one of the over 4,000 people who are losing their jobs because of it. Hey, Texas jewelers, how do you like those low gas prices? Literally, Houston does have a problem.
Ok. Boomers are aging. There’s always someone to fill their footsteps and that would be Gen X and they are 50% of our size and doing the following:
Getting married later, paying alimony and child support, paying off expensive college loans, worried about keeping their high-paying jobs, moving where a better job takes them, losing money in their 401K, buying expensive technology, worried about taking care of their aging parents, who are the oldest of the boomers, who spent way too much money on literally everything.
What about Millennials, who are actually larger than the boomer generation and just entering the work force? Well, that must be good news, except they are:
Living together with their significant others, waiting even longer to get married, paying off their college loans, lucky to get a great paying job, living at home with their Gen X parents who just want to be empty-nesters, spending money on technology like it’s no one’s business, shopping online, hard to reach, price sensitive, and — beyond getting engaged at some point in time — not very interested in fine jewelry.
Houston, we really have a problem.