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U.S. Jewelry & Watch Sales +2% to $6B

May 30, 2014 10:40 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... U.S. jewelry and watch sales improved by low single-digits in April, according to preliminary statistics released today, while the rate of growth for March was revised two percentage points higher to 4.1 percent.  Sales of jewelry and watches combined increased 2.4 percent year on year in April as measured across all retail segments. However, the rate of growth one year ago was very robust at 11.1 percent.

Meanwhile, U.S. consumer price inflation (CPI) for jewelry in April dropped 3.7 percent year on year, while the inflation rate for watches was flat. (Read more after the chart.)

jewelry sales

Jewelry sales in April increased 2.3 percent year on year to $5.056 billion, while watch sales rose 2.7 percent to $676 million, according to Rapaport News estimates. Sales totals were  unchanged from March, indicating stable consumer interest for jewelry and watches at the nation's retailers. (Read more after the chart.)

watches sales

By comparison, advanced estimates for all retail sales at U.S. department stores in April revealed an increase of 3.4 percent year on year to $13.01 billion. Retail and food services sales in April rose 4 percent to $434.6 billion. Retail trade sales improved 4.2 percent. Nonstore retail sales jumped 6.5 percent.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Commerce Department observed that consumers  spent less on durable goods and services in April compared with March, leading analysts to express some caution. Lindsey Piegza, the chief economist at Sterne Agee, concluded that U.S. consumers pulled back on spending in April, lowering expectations for any consumer-driven boost to the second quarter. 

"Despite hopes of pent-up demand driving consumption and overall growth through the second quarter -- and the second half -- it appears after just two months any lingering demand for goods left over from the winter months at the start of the year has since been satisfied. Going forward, in order to maintain momentum in spending, there must be sustainable job and income growth. Meaning it will take more than a hefty increase in the jobs number, but an increase in the quality of jobs is needed as well to create wage pressures, which at the moment remain virtually nonexistent. At this point employers continue to seek out flexible, low-cost labor with part-time and temporary employees, meaning positive job creation but minimal income growth," Piegza wrote in a note to clients.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) determined that consumers tempered their spending in April.  However, the NRF's chief economist, Jack Kleinhenz, said, “Even though retail sales were weaker than anticipated, the fundamentals of the economy, including improving job growth and income gains, remain positive. While the shift in Easter played into the seasonal figures, NRF remains optimistic that retail sales will keep their positive trajectory, albeit in fits-and-starts, in the second quarter.”

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Tags: april. department stores, Consumer Spending, Jeff Miller, Jewelry, jewelry stores, retail sales, watches
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