The array of shows in Las Vegas are over, and we are all recovering. The shows were busy--very busy--and many vendors had excellent results, the best since before the downturn. Nevertheless, the mood was a mix of relief, excitement and more than a touch of worry.
Why worry? Well, we are all still staring at a stumbling economy, one that has shown signs of stalling, which scares everyone. A major supplier has seen a double-digit increase in sales, and it appears to them that consumers are buying again, even if it is cautiously. But they are still not sanguine about the months to come. Part of the energy we saw might be due to retailers needing goods after working down their inventory levels. Part may be because they have made good money buying gold and stone jewelry off the street. One vendor said that every retailer they met with reported that buying from the public has been a big boon.
Another open question is whether the public will pay for much higher prices. One can presume that the public does not (and cannot) keep track of where prices are going, and will pay the price, at least within their budget. The industry has done very well in designing new lines (many in silver, of course!) that look great and recapture important price points. A chain supplier said that probably 75% of all their sales are now in silver. Totally believable. And important price points have been recaptured.
Still, buyers swallowed hard as they bought gold jewelry, with stones, which immediately produced retails in the $3,000 to $5,000 range, as a starting point. Will it work? Nobody knows.