Global retail sales of diamond jewelry for 2004 were about 6.2% higher than the previous year in local currency and, because of the continued weakening of the U.S. dollar, about 8% higher in U.S. dollars, according to De Beers.
Strong areas of growth were Asia-Pacific, India, and the Middle East. Japan also recording modest growth for the second year, De Beers said.
More good news came from the Commerce Department in March, as national retail sales for February climbed by 5.6% over 2004.
Clothing stores and clothing accessories stores (including jewelry stores) saw sales rise 2.9% for the month.
Retail executives, meanwhile, are optimistic for 2005, according to the National Retail Federation’s Retail Sector Performance Index (RSPI).
The RSPI rose 5.3 points to 55.6 in February after four straight months of declining numbers. The RSPI measures retail executives’ evaluations of monthly sales, customer traffic, the average transaction per customer, employment, inventories and a six-month-ahead sales outlook expectation.
The RSPI is based on a scale of 0.0-100.0 with 50.0 equaling normal. According to the NRF, retail executives said that customer sales and traffic rebounded significantly in February and pricing power also stabilized.
According to the U.S. Labor Department, with the inflation rate at 0.4%, and hourly pay and
average workweek both unchanged, real weekly earnings fell 0.4% in February.