Discount trends, Hong Kong protests slow diamond sales growth: De Beers
By Silvia Antonioli
LONDON (Reuters) - Diamond jewelery sales will keep growing but at a more modest pace, De Beers predicts, blaming a slowdown that started late last year on changing Christmas shopping trends and protest in Hong Kong.
The world's largest diamond company by market value said on Friday that diamond jewelery sales rose almost 3 percent to a record high of $81 billion in 2014, albeit a slower growth pace than in previous years.
Last-minute Christmas buying of luxury gifts has been eroded by planned purchases of new IT products, for instance, in mass retailers' promotions such as the U.S. Black Friday in November or even earlier.
"In the United States there was a trend toward less Christmas gift shopping immediately before Christmas, driven by early retail promotional activity. Meanwhile growth in China was impacted by a softer macroeconomic environment and the protests in Hong Kong," De Beers said in a statement.
Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in October and November forced shops to shut, limiting sales of jewelery to locals and Chinese tourists.
De Beers focuses on sales of rough diamonds but also has two retail brands: Forevermark, with 1,500 shops around the world, and De Beers Diamond Jewellers, a very high-end joint venture with LVMH.
HIGH EXPECTATIONS Continued...