Retail sales down 1.8% in November - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Retail sales down 1.8% in November

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by Brady Smith

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - The U.S. Commerce Department recorded another example of the economy's effect on consumers. They calculated a 1.8% drop in retail sales for the month of November, the fifth straight monthly drop. The jewelry industry, according to one Iowa City store owner, is getting hit especially hard.

Willa Dickens, co-owner of Herteen & Stocker Jewelers, has been in the jewelry business since 1943. So, he was understandably surprised to see his store's November sales go up slightly, while they dropped for other businesses.

"Our volume is still up because we're making bigger unit sales, but not as many," said Dickens. As one of only four dealers in the state selling Rolex watches, he's noticed more people coming in to buy that brand. "I'm absolutely astounded how many Rolexes I've sold in the last five weeks."

On the whole, he says watch sales have stayed strong because his customers are looking for gifts with practicality.

Dickens' store has also hosted special events like a diamond show, which he says has attracted customers. "We had well over a million dollars worth of diamonds on display."

However, he says things could be much better. Dickens is being forced to trim expenses where he can, and is down one full-time and part-time worker, neither of which he plans to replace.

"We will look at where we can focus our advertising, and probably do more specific advertising, so we can measure the results," he told us. He says most other jewelers are getting hit hard, both nationally and locally, referring to another nearby store owner.

"He's down 33 percent for the year." Dickens estimates sales are down industry-wide by 10 to 20 percent. In a time when larger chains are being forced to close stores, he's glad to be independent of corporate control.

Despite projections that things will get worse before they get better, Dickens estimates another increase in his sales for December.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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