11/30/12 Tiffany’s shares slid 6.25% yesterday as their 3rd quarter results missed Wall Street expectations. The lack of demand is blamed on high diamond and precious metal prices. I am not buying this, as it been the case for several years. Mark Aaron, Tiffany’s investor relations chief told the Wall Street Journal that weak consumer demand was “part of the reason”, especially sales of silver jewelry.
I believe, as I did last January, that they haven’t introduced any exciting collections lately in the aspirational luxury (silver) area. Whimsical fashion and inspirational jewelry like charm bracelets, have been on fire in recent years. They have abdicated this to the likes of Pandora and others. Mark Aaron admitted to the WSJ, that “merchandise priced above $500 dollars saw in most cases, growth in sales and units”.
The aspirational luxury customer loves Tiffany’s, when there is a compelling assortment.
Tiffany’s cut their earnings outlook for 2011, citing a weakness in North America for 4th quarter…a dismal 4% gain in North American sales. Analysts are trying to make sense of it suggesting that perhaps the fine jewelry customer is buying technology instead. This doesn’t square with the fact that other luxury retailers had a decent holiday and iPhones and iPads aren’t that expensive.
My take on the situation is lack of exciting new items for the aspirational customer in Tiffany’s this fall like their “well-knocked off” key collection in the past. Other stores are eating Tiffany’s breakfast. I saw sign-in sheets and long
lines outside the Pandora jewelry stores, just for chance to get a few expensive baubles for their already “over-indulged” teens, wives and girl friends.
On a positive note, their bags by designers Lambertson and Truex take my breath away!
Dix&Pond is the blog of www.dixandpond.com Creative and strategic consulting for retail and wholesale apparel, shoe and consumer product companies.