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JCK Online reports that according to findings from a JCK-Harrison Group Consumer Jewelry Study, in an unaided-recall question about jewelry brands, consumers identified retail names rather than product names most often.

The study indicates that while the Internet has become inceasingly popular with jewelry shoppers, consumers still prefer retail stores to online shopping by more than two to one. To the question where they purchased jewelry in the previous two years, 87% of the respondents replied that they had bought it from a retail store, while 42% purchased jewelry online. 35% responded that they had acquired jewelry at a discount store, and 18% chose “other,” including TV shopping, catalogues and other outlets. In JCK’s previous consumer study conducted in 1999, only 3% of the respondents replied that they had shopped for jewelry online.

Although 57% of respondents’ first reply to the unaided-brand-recall question was the name of a local jewelry store, when asked where they actually bought jewelry in the previous two years, the figures were lower and equally divided (41% each) between a local jewelry or watch store, a chain jewelry store, and a department store.

In the 1999 study, 53% of consumers indicated they had recently bought jewelry at an independent jewelry store vs. 41% in the 2008 study. 32% selected “chain jewelry store” in 1999, 10% fewer than the 41% who selected it this year.

However, it should be taken into account that there were more independent jewelers in 1999 and there were more retail jewelers at that time.

According to the Jewelers Board of Trade, at the end of 1998 there were 27,256 retail jewelers in the United States. As of June 2008, the total number of retail jewelers stands at 22,830. Additionally, in the nine years since the previous study, more avenues of distribution have opened up for fine jewelry. More malls have been built, making mall-based jewelry chain stores accessible to more shoppers.

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