Signet Jewelers, the parent company of the Zales and Kay jewelry store chains, cut its 2023 financial outlook, saying the COVID lockdown killed sales and the following rise in inflation and interest rates has slashed demand for engagement rings.
The company also cited lower tax refunds and jitters over recent bank failures for its slump.
The company cut its sales forecast this year to between $7.1 and $7.3 billion, down from $7.6 to $7.8 billion.
First-quarter sales fell 9.3 percent to $1.67 billion, year on year.
Sales of engagement rings make up about half of Signet’s revenue. It said the COVID lockdown disrupted the usual three-year arc from dating to the purchase of an engagement ring.
“We expected to see [ring sales] decline, but we also expected growth in average transaction values, which did not materialize,” CEO Virginia Drosos told an investors call earlier this month.
“People are still getting engaged but buying a ring at a slightly lower price,” she added.
Signet also faces a longer-term problem in social norms: people are getting engaged at later ages than in the past and a growing number are choosing not to marry at all.
TREND FORECAST: Over the coming decades, diamond sales will continue their decline. Diamonds, as Marilyn Monroe sang 70 years ago, are no longer “a girl’s best friend.”
And with people marrying at older ages, the glamor of the younger feeling of life wanes with age. Back in “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” days, women got married at age 20 and men at 23. In 2022, the median marriage age for men was 30.1 years and 28.2 years among women, according to the U.S. census bureau. A decade earlier, the median ages were 28.6 and 26.6.