UK jewellery demand faces uncertain times after Brexit vote
By David Brough
NOTTINGHAM, England, October 3, 2016 – UK jewellery demand risks flattening against an uncertain economic backdrop caused by Brexit.
Speaking at the Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ) conference, Rhys Herbert, a senior economist at Lloyds Banking Group, said that UK economic growth could slow down next year, and inflation could pick up, eating into real wages, due to the weaker pound linked to the UK vote to leave the EU.
In a keynote address, he said the current low interest rate environment, after the recent cut in rates by the Bank of England to 0.25 percent, was likely to persist for some time.
Stella Layton, chief executive of Birmingham Assay Office, said in another keynote address that the industry faced challenging times as hallmarking of gold articles stabilised, with gold prices high in sterling terms and likely to remain so for some time.
“We are in a period of massive uncertainty,” she said, noting that jewellery demand in the UK had flattened in 2015 after growing in 2014.
Self-purchase by young women and gifting among men, resilient purchases of silver jewellery, and growing tastes for colour in jewellery, were bright spots in the market.
However, the number of marriages in the UK had fallen in recent years, potentially eroding bridal jewellery sales.
Jewellery faces stiff competition from other types of luxury and lifestyle products, including telephony and foreign travel.
In other presentations at the CMJ conference, Jonathan Bradshaw talked about the importance of social skills to help generate retail sales in jewellery, giving tips on social behaviour.
Retail futurist Howard Saunders gave a lively talk about the outlook for retail, saying stores were likely to be superceded by club-like retail environments.
He said bespoke offerings and specialist retail outlets had bright prospects, while general retail stores would struggle.
Neil Chrismas, sales director of Fog Bandit, gave a live demonstration of security fog in a seminar for retailers, and showed videos highlighting its effective use to scare away assailants who had attacked jewellers in recent incidents.
Merchandising consultant Jo Henderson gave a talk at another seminar advising retailers on organising window displays to boost sales, urging Christmas displays to go up just after Bonfire Night on November 5.
She urged retailers to go back to their shops and take a second, much closer look at their windows and try to see them through the eyes of passers-by.