Engagement ring sales are down and the pandemic is to blame

Signet Jewellers says that fewer people met their match during Covid lockdowns

The pandemic took a toll on most facets of life. The effects to one area in particular—dating—are still reverberating through society.

Signet Jewellers, the largest jewelry retailer in the world, blamed COVID-19’s impact on dating for the fewer engagement rings it’s selling this year, The New York Times reported on Friday. The jeweller, which owns Kay and Zales, cut both its sales and profit estimates for the rest of 2023.

“As we predicted, there were fewer engagements in the quarter resulting from COVID’s disruption of dating three years ago,” Signet CEO Virginia C. Drosos told investors on Thursday, according to the Times. “We began to see softening at higher price points, which previously had been relatively insulated, and lower price points remained under pressure,” Signet CFO Joan Hilson added.

While a lack of dating over the past couple of years may have contributed to fewer people shopping for diamond rings, a handful of other factors have also been at play: consumers are trying to buy less thanks to the rapid inflation hitting the United States, and they’ve become more nervous about the direction of the economy. That’s impacted spending habits across the board, but especially on big-ticket items like expensive jewellery. (The wedding industry in general has experienced a rough couple of years, as ceremonies and parties were canceled thanks to the pandemic. But many wedding-related activities returned in full force in 2022, and the current slowdown could be a corrective to that boom.)

However, some luxury jewellers have been insulated from these pressures, thanks to wealthy individuals’ proclivity to continue spending. Tiffany & Co., for example, saw continued growth in the beginning of 2023, including strong jewelry sales, The New York Times noted.

“Everybody was expecting 2023 to be a horrendous year for luxury in the U.S.,” Jean-Jacques Guiony, the CFO of LVMH, which owns Tiffany, said in April. “It’s normalizing, but it’s not bad, either.”

And Signet is hoping that coming years will see stronger engagement-ring sales. The company thinks there will be 500,000 more engagements from 2024 to 2026 than pre-pandemic trends would have suggested, the Times wrote. All of those singles who were cooped up during the height of the pandemic have to make up for lost time somehow, right?

This story was first published on Robb Report USA