While it is true that Father’s Day and graduation season are not the most lucrative consumer shopping occasions of the year, they do manage to rake in billions in sales, reports the National Retail Federation, with lots of room to grow, particularly for gifts of jewelry and watches.
Spending for Father’s Day this year reached $12.7 billion, up slightly from $12.5 billion in 2014, but lagging a tad behind the $13.3 billion realized in 2013. The average spend was about $115, near even with 2014. Four in 10, almost 40%, purchased apparel and accessories like dress shirts and neckties to the tune of $1.7 billion (perfect for cufflinks and tie bars). Another 43% opted for experience gifts like ballgame tickets or a special meal. Nearly 52% bought for dad/stepdad, 28% for husband, and less than 10% for friend, brother and son.
Not too shabby, gift spending for the spring graduation season this year reached nearly $4.8 billion, an all-time high in the survey’s 10-year history, up from $4.7 billion last year, and $4.6 billion in 2013. The average spend was about $102 with gift cards, apparel and electronics among the top presents next to cash.
Shopping options for men are growing, giving fathers everywhere hope that their gifts in the coming year will align with their evolving tastes, hails Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. He advises retailers highlight the unique elements their products bring to the men’s market; offering new opportunities for discovery or gifts that cater to a male’s pride or emotional side. “Dads are notoriously more difficult to shop for. But businesses can take advantage of this opportunity to stand out in the crowd. Because Father’s Day marketing is far less competitive, retailers are poised to provide consumers with creative gift ideas.”
In line with trends for Valentine and Mother’s days, accessories that can be personalized are most popular for dad, cites Jonathan Goodman Cohen of IB Goodman, Newport, Kentucky. “We think engraved jewelry items are great for this occasion—a very personal keepsake, memorable and classic.“ He notes that price points tend to be under $200 retail.
“Cufflinks are a wonderful way to accessorize a man’s wardrobe and there are so many styles to choose from that individualism can be easily expressed, novelty or classic—whether stainless steel, silver and enamel, or gold and gems,” shares Cohen. “They can be bundled with French cuff shirt and matching tie!” He also cites tie bars, and unique key chains and money clips as top choices for dad.
The trend for secret messaging in jewelry is particularly popular for men, cites Renee Miller, director of sales and merchandising for Alison & Ivy, a Fantasy Diamond brand, based in Chicago. “Men are more likely to wear a tag or carry an accessory that communicates Dad is No. 1 in Morse code, or the dates or initials of his kids—it’s cool and trendy.” She also cites monograms as very popular for men on cufflinks, collar stays, signet rings, and dog tags, even watch faces.
Watches remain a top accessory for men, with so many options to express their personalities from casual to dressy, professional to sporty. For this reason, brands like Seiko offer watches for every caliber of guy. According to Kathleen LeFebvre, spokesperson for the brand: Techies gravitate to its Astron GPS Solar timepiece, now with dual-time capabilities. Sports adventurers are attracted to its Prospex Kinetic Dive and Sportura Perpetual Solar watches. And, there are great gifts in timeless designs under $200 in its Pulsar Solar Chronographs.
“An elegant accurate timepiece for a man is a stylish accessory, symbol of love, gesture of appreciation, and recognition of fine craftsmanship,” tells Rachel Kirschenbaum, global communications coordinator for Bulova in New York. As guys love gadgets, watches provide endless fascination in technology. “This season, our main focus is on our proprietary movement, Ultra High Frequency,” she says, “amazing technology we feel is revolutionizing the industry.”
Next to cool bells and whistles, guys want comfort. Samantha Barker, public relations and social media coordinator for Citizen Watch, Lyndhurst, New Jersey hails ease of wear a key factor for men. “Besides durability and price, dad is looking for comfort.” She cites as an example the brand’s Ecosphere Golf model that boasts the comfort of a polyurethane strap, mixed with a timeless sporty style that works whether dad plays golf or not.
Important rites of passage and accomplishments like high school and college graduations present perfect opportunities to gift fine jewelry and watches, which for many young people may be their first important keepsake.
Amanda Gizzi, director of communications and special events for Jewelers of America in New York, emphasizes that every graduate needs classic pieces to wear every day or on job interviews. She hails jewelry wardrobe staples like studs and huggie hoops, and pearl necklaces and earrings as foolproof gifts. Among the personalized jewelry options for grads, she suggests incorporating school logo, mascot or colors in the gift.
Jewelers should present ample options, says Gizzi, including better style basics and on-trend items that grads will appreciate. Think pearl studs (especially popular now are front-back designs), sterling silver message jewelry (initials, dates, affirmations, birthstones), eternity rings, and watches.
“Graduation is one of the most important times in someone’s life,” tells Barker. “No matter from high school or college, the graduation gift is something to be honored, cherished and remembered. The No. 1 graduation gift is a watch. This is something that a graduate can take with them to the next step in life, whether off to college or on to their first job. A watch that matches the ever-changing fashion trends plus something that will last forever is key.” She cites as examples Citizen’s Calendrier for men and Bella for ladies—styles from its Eco-Drive collection that requires no battery and is powered by light, artificial and natural.
Prepare & Promote
Whether it’s Father’s Day, a graduation, or any other gifting opportunity, jewelers who succeed in sales are prepared with the right merchandise and promote what they have to their consumers in a way that inspires and excites.
“Curate and merchandise a unique collection, then visually display/feature it in a beautiful presentation,” advocates Kathy Grenier, marketing director for Imperial Pearl in Providence, Rhode Island. “Promote your store as the source for the newest and finest for all annual gift-giving occasions. Always have an assortment ready and stocked, customers need gifts to buy, be their reliable source.”
Offering your own gift guide helps to narrow the focus for consumers and gets them thinking about the possibilities, advises Courtney Galloway for Breuning, Lawrenceville, Georgia. “It’s a starting point that gets people in the door and opens conversations. With all the competition in the marketplace, jewelers have to put themselves out there talking about the possibilities in store, online and through traditional marketing. Use all avenues of outreach.”
With jewelry and watches considered a No. 1 keepsake for message and meaning, playing up the many ways to celebrate the moments and relationships in our lives is what it is all about for any gift-giving occasion.