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IBM Predicts 5% Rise in Holiday Jewelry Sales

IBM has forecast strong growth in jewelry sales over the holiday retail season amid robust consumer sentiment. Purchases in the category will rise an estimated 5.2% year on year during the festive period, IBM vice president and chief scientist Michael Haydock said Thursday. Jewelry was fourth in the company’s list of categories set to see the highest sales growth. It came in behind consumer appliances and various types of clothing. Women’s clothing was fifth, while footwear nabbed the sixth spot. Jewelry has fared well even in a shaky period for some retailers. The category was one of the strongest at JCPenney in the third quarter, even as the company’s total sales fell 6%, it noted last week. “Jewelry has been a business that we’ve been pleased with,” the department-store chain’s CEO, Jill Soltau, said in a call with investors on November 15 following its results announcement. “I think the customer continues to respond very nicely to what [the jewelry division] has done from a curation and merchandising perspective around great gifts for the holiday season,” the executive said during the session, which was transcribed by Seeking Alpha. Research groups are expecting strong increases in total retail sales during the festive season. Revenues will rise 4.8% overall, IBM predicted, while the National Retail Federation expects a 4.3% to 4.8% increase. Consumer sentiment has remained positive throughout the year, according to the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers. However, holiday sales could suffer if the US Federal Reserve raises interest rates significantly, University of Michigan chief economist Richard Curtin added. “While there is no reason to anticipate a sudden change in interest-rate expectations in the next few months, it is still an important task for the Fed to avoid hitting the threshold that causes widespread postponement of purchases,” he noted.

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