2017 turned out to be a rather interesting year for us with some radical departures in selling patterns. The first quarter was dominated by political discussions in social media and steady sales for personal gifts, where price really was no object or consideration. Our summer season, kicked off with a record Father's Day and the best season on record straight through early November. Sales included guitar picks, guitar wall hangers, and gold bracelets, sometimes even in the same order. The Amazon Effect definitely upped the stakes this year as customers generally expected "Prime" level shipping speeds for handmade and custom orders which we did manage to pull off during most of the year.
As November approached, the Christmas orders flirted with record territory, leaving us worried about not being able to keep up with demand. Around mid-November, consumer confidence suddenly waned and the average price per order fell to a record 5 year low. Consumers felt confident enough to order in record numbers, but just not confident enough to purchase gold and silver jewelry in the same quantities as earlier in the season. Many customers reported some concerns regarding the efforts to overhaul taxation, however the greatest concern seem to be the prices of equities and real estate causing a degree of unrest or bringing back memories of the last contraction period in 2007-2009. We do see a small drop in the consumer confidence indices in October which may be a reflection of more cautious outlooks for 2018, however we expect to see consumers spend less on holiday gifts and a bit more for themselves in the coming months echoing the pattern we saw in the first quarter of 2017. Our best sales and largest wholesale orders all were placed outside of the typical holiday seasons giving us more time to concentrate on quality rather than quantity. Being the handmade business, time is really our most valuable and important resource.