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December 2008

While retail forecasts for the holiday are far from upbeat, one bright spot is the strength of fine jewelry as a gift-giving category. According to a National Retail Federation survey, nearly a fifth of all consumers polled plan to purchase jewelry this season. One of its strengths? The inherent sentimentality of fine jewelry and diamonds.

"Americans may be hesitant to purchase expensive gifts this holiday season, but personal and practical gifts will resonate most with shoppers this year," said Tracy Mullin, NRF president and chief executive officer.

Research by the Conference Board confirms this, with a survey showing that, among online purchases, more than 10 percent of shoppers plan to buy jewelry online this holiday season.

Overall spending per customer, however, is expected to drop. Households will spend an average of $418 this holiday season, an 11.3 decline from spending in 2007.

"This is shaping up to be one of the most challenging holiday seasons in years, and it’s going to take more than the usual discounts and incentives from retailers to get consumers to spend more freely," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s consumer research center.
One change to note is the shift in payment methods. According to the NRF, consumers are expected to reign in credit purchases, choosing instead to pay with cash or debit cards.

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