Costume jewellery recorded declining sales in 2019 as the Canadian economy weakened towards the end of 2018 and remained in the doldrums throughout at least the first half of the year. In response, the leading costume jewellery brands and retailers engaged in promotions and price discounting, placing pressure on unit prices and value growth.
Sales of fine jewellery increased in 2019 and this sales growth was driven primarily by the luxury market, with consumers in Toronto and Vancouver especially keen on splashing out on expensive items of fine jewellery during the year. These large urban centres have populations that are wealthier and more diverse than the general Canadian population as well as benefiting from higher numbers of international tourists visiting them.
Internet retailing continues to have a strong impact on sales of jewellery as younger consumers, notably millennials, are increasingly keen on shopping online. In particular, younger consumers tend to conduct most or all of their pre-purchase research online, searching for the lowest prices before committing to a purchase.
Jewellery remains a heavily fragmented category and no company was able to generate a value share in excess of 3% in 2018. Sales are dominated by numerous independent players and retailers, with sales especially weighted towards independents outside of major urban centres such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.
The distribution of jewellery in Canada remains highly competitive and the category’s leading retailers have no choice but to constantly innovate in an effort to drive sales. For example, Birks Group recently signed a multi-year agreement with Flexiti Financial, a provider of point-of-sale consumer financing solutions, to offer in-store financing of jewellery purchases.
Jewellery and watch specialist retailers remains the dominant retail distribution channel for fine jewellery in Canada. Sales through this channel have been bolstered in recent years by the expansion of luxury brand boutiques such as Van Cleef & Arpels, which opened a new store in Toronto during 2017.
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