The Jewelers Board of Trade’s (JBT) list of North American jewelry companies remained relatively flat in the first quarter of 2021, a surprising turnaround after more than a decade of steep declines.
JBT’s total listings in the first quarter of 2021 were 25,413, down 1.5% from a year earlier. To compare this figure to previous years, in 2020 JBT listings dropped 2.1% and in 2019 they dropped 3.1%.
The group’s tally includes 19,236 retailers, 3,693 wholesalers and 2,484 manufacturers.
JBT President Erich Jacobs said he was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the numbers.
“I thought we would start to see more closures,” he says. “There have been a lot of things that have happened during the COVID-19 crisis that have kind of let people drift away, from the [Paycheck Protection Program] loans to owners and suppliers being more lenient.
“If you had asked me a year ago what the jewelry industry would be like at this time, I would have given you a different answer. The jewelry industry had a good year overall, at except for stores that are not online.
He notes that there may have been retailers that quietly closed whose closures JBT was unable to record. He also sees possible upheaval over the next year, as many jewelers may have postponed closings because a pandemic is not an ideal setting for a clearance sale. He also sees consumer dollars returning to travel.
“Looking ahead, the company is going to be driven by, what are the travel trends?” he says. “You had $11 billion a week that wasn’t supposed to be spent on travel. Some of this is going to end up on people’s fingers.
But he notes that there was a significant to augment in consumer savings, which could offset some of the change in spending.
JBT recorded 148 jewelry business interruptions during the first quarter of 2021, down 51% from the first quarter of 2020. This number is broken down into 121 retailers, 12 wholesalers and 15 manufacturers. All but four of these dropouts occurred in the United States; the others were in Canada.
The JBT uses interrupts as a catch-all term for companies that have gone out of business, merged or consolidated, or filed for bankruptcy.
JBT also registered 35 new companies entering the industry – 30 retailers, 4 wholesalers and 1 manufacturer. This number was also down, from 50 the previous year. All but two of these new companies were in the United States.
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