Jewellery industry out of touch, study shows

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The Independent Online

UK jewellery retailers were charged with being "massively out of touch with their market" yesterday after the publication of a study from the research group Mintel which showed a decline in jewellery sales as a percentage of overall UK retail sales.

UK jewellery retailers were charged with being "massively out of touch with their market" yesterday after the publication of a study from the research group Mintel which showed a decline in jewellery sales as a percentage of overall UK retail sales.

The consumer has "lost interest in lumps of gold", the big pieces of jewellery that the older generation preferred, Richard Perks, a Mintel senior analyst, said.

Mr Perks estimates that "annual sales of jewellers would be £1bn more than they are currently" if their market share had remained stable. Jewellery sales have declined as a percentage of the overall retail market in the UK from 1.88 per cent in 1991 to 1.42 per cent in 2003.

Mr Perks believes that the UK market for precious metals will continue to grow but says the industry needs designers working with young graduates to look more closely at what the consumer wants. He said: "Successful retailers at the moment are those that know their target market and really home in on it. Argos, whose jewellery sales are performing strongly, represent the low end market, but they have a specified target market who want fashion pieces at value cost."

Michael Hoare, the chairman of the National Jewellery Steering Group, said there was a "glaring lack of market intelligence" within the industry.

Mintel said that people in the 20-34 years age range, were now buying the largest quantities of jewellery. Women with disposable income are willing to spend money as self-purchasers and gift buyers. Retailers successfully marketing to this group act swiftly to fashion trends, including the growing preference for white metals over yellow gold.

Celebrities such as David Beckham have added to the demand for jewellery for men, which now represents 10 per cent of the UK market.

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