Retailers heading into the 2021 holiday season are not entirely sure what to expect. Will retail continue to rebound? Will the Delta variant - or another variant - continue to disrupt valiant attempts to return to life as we knew it? And how does all this affect your inventory planning?
In any year, inventory planning for the jewelry high season is important, but the stakes are higher than usual as we head into the holidays 2021. Here are a few things to consider before too many more weeks get away from you!
Most retail forecasters anticipate that holiday shopping will start sooner in 2021 than in previous years. This is partly because of extensive news coverage promising supply shortages on all goods, and partly because consumers (and retailers) are no longer as enthusiastic about Black Friday as they once were. If Black Friday is not a big deal, why wait? In 2020, Black Friday deals occurred on an almost weekly basis, and Cyber Monday was stretched out for an entire week. Expect to see more of the same this year.
Style predictions for Holiday 2021 are all over the map, and the fashion industry has basically acknowledged that homogeneous style trends no longer exist. There are style trends for every lifestyle, age, and subculture. Finished jewelry featured at the JCK Show in Las Vegas included a lot of charms, initials, zodiac, and talisman-like elements. But given the significantly reduced size of the show, and the absence of a strong international influence, it's entirely likely that this jewelry trend represents only a slice of what customers will be looking for.
Broader style trends indicate that second-time-around and retro fashion continues to pique consumer interest, with styles from every decade of the last century all demonstrating some level of appeal. This is good news for antique and estate jewelry. Dust off your estate display, fill in with some new pieces and treat that case with the same love you treat your diamond case this holiday season.
Beyond those ideas, predicting style trends for the holidays is not possible. Some designers are showing sequined, flashy, bright-colored, voluminous looks reminiscent of a new age of optimism and hope. Others are showing monochrome looks in unusual hues. And buttoned-up oversized masculine jackets and pants in earth tones are also getting their due. Clearly, no set style is in play.
Given these conditions, perhaps the best thing you can do is have good stock on the basics. Diamond studs, diamond hoops, gold hoops, and gold chains will go with any look any time. Where you're likely to be able to sell more color is in rings. Women will try hard to match earrings, bracelets, and necklaces to an outfit, but are willing to let a ring be a style statement regardless of what they are wearing.
Supply chain shortages have been an issue for months, and Hurricane Ida has created even more supply chain challenges. Prices at the JCK show were high, and that trend is expected to continue into 2023. To combat the impact of higher prices, make sure you have a good range of merchandise in many price points, and buy close-to-the-vest. Don't let critical inventory items sit empty though! Be sure to reorder strong pieces before they run out, or you risk missing out on sales.
Now is the time to analyze your sales for the past two years, see what categories and price points are performing best for you, and make an inventory plan for the holidays. Pay special attention to turns - both too high and too low. Turns below 1X per year indicate stock that just isn't of interest to consumers or which is priced too high. But turns above 5X aren't necessarily good. Extra high turns can indicate that you repeatedly run out of something customers would buy a lot more of if you had it in stock!
Once you've done your category and price analysis, pick the top 3-5 items in each category and see if you notice any patterns. Broad jewelry trends (i.e., what your suppliers say sells) are good to know, but if you're doing things correctly you've cultivated your own unique client. Pay attention to what they buy - and what they don't! - to ensure you are curating your merchandise to their specific tastes.
Finally anticipate totals that you will need on all items to get you through the holiday season. If there are some items you can't live without and which may suffer from supply chain delays, get those ordered now. For everything else, run a quick review weekly through the end of November, and then daily through December, to spot holes in your inventory that must be filled.
Nobody has a crystal ball, but these ideas will help you make the most accurate inventory plan you can while giving you room to respond and react quickly.