Iconic jewellers losing their shine with younger shoppers
VALENTINE'S Day week should be one of their busiest periods but one retail expert says some of our iconic jewellers are struggling because they lack relevance with the younger generation. QUT retail academic Gary Mortimer says Wallace Bishop, Prouds and Michael Hill are among the mainstream jewellers struggling against modern brands such Lovisa and Pandora, which have successfully cornered the youth market.
"At the top end of the market, you have Tiffany where you get a glass of champagne while you look for an engagement ring," says Mortimer. "At the other end, you have Lovisa and Pandora which have costume jewellery in the $20 range and are appealing to the 25 to 30 year age range. In the middle, you have these iconic older jewellers like Wallace Bishop and Prouds which are really not resonating with the younger market."
He adds jewellery is a discretionary item and while jewellers do well on special occasions such as Valentine's Day and Christmas, people don't buy a watch or ring that often. It's been a tough period for retailers, and jewellers in particular.
Michael Hill last month said it did not rule out further store closures in the second half of the year as it faced a "particularly difficult" local retail market.
The same month the company behind the popular jewellery and accessory chain Colette was placed into voluntary administration blaming the country's dire retail climate.
The 103-year-old Wallace Bishop chain meanwhile has closed two stores after amassing losses of $15 million over two years and being warned by its auditors that it may not survive the brutal down in the retail sector.
A recent article in trade publication Jeweller Magazine notes that jewellery as a category remains somewhat sheltered from digital disruption and unlike video and music stores still has the ability to offer a point of difference or unique selling proposition.
"One point of difference for independent jewellers is customer service and the need for shoppers to 'touch and feel' jewellery," it says. But in order to succeed they need to offer the customer an active role in designing their own unique product.