More people are buying diamonds for themselves as global sales bounce back

Shoppers are increasingly treating themselves to diamond jewellery, rather than buying it for others – helping push the global market back into growth.

Worldwide diamond sales hit $80bn (£62bn) in 2016, according to industry leader De Beers, reversing a dip the year before when demand from China and India slumped.

Global sales were bolstered by rising demand in the US, the world’s biggest diamond market, which accounts for 50pc of all polished stones.

Stephen Lussier, marketing director of De Beers, said that one-third of all sales in the US were now down to “self-purchase”, up from around a quarter before 2008.

“Gift-giving is still the foundation of sales, but there is a trend of economically empowered women buying diamond jewellery for themselves,” Mr Lussier said.

This is split across younger, “millennial” shoppers – those born after 1980 – and married women, according to De Beers.

jewellers
US diamond retail sales recorded their fifth straight year of growth

The increasing popularity of designer jewellery, such as “stackable” diamond rings, was also driving self-purchase, Mr Lussier added. “It’s very hard for men to buy design-oriented jewellery because we get it wrong. We can buy the classical cuts but women are more particular about designer jewellery.”

Diamond jewellery sales in India slumped 8.8pc last year after the local market was hit by a six-week jewellers’ strike and a surprise demonisation programme launched by the government.

The removal of high-denomination banknotes in a crackdown on the black market rocked the local diamond industry, which is largely cash driven. Although India only accounts for 6pc of global retail sales, it is responsible for around 90pc of the world’s diamond cutting and polishing.

Mr Lussier said the world diamond market was looking “pretty steady” this year, with India bouncing back more quickly than expected, and sales rising in China.

GST clearance sales: Upto 60 per cent off on clothing, apparel and footwear from top brands

Mumbai, June 15: With the Goods and Services Tax (GST) roll out just two weeks away, several fashion and sports brands are holding clearance and end-of-season sales to sell out current stocks before the new tax regime kicks in. Some of the biggest clothes and footwear brands are offering steep discounts on various products and if you’re an avid shopper, you will want to take advantage of this particular opportunity to save money on premium buys that you won’t regret.

GST is the reason that retailers are hustling to clear stocks before July 1, and shoppers are sure to benefit from this sudden sale season. Some of the major retail chains, online and retail stores, as well as online shopping websites are offering as much as 40 to 50 per cent discount on some of the top clothing, apparel and footwear brands like Puma, Bata, Only, Jack & Jones, Vero Moda, etc. Top online shopping websites like Flipkart, Amazon and others are also holding end of season sales on fashion products, clothes and footwear.

GST

There are heavy discounts on fashion accessories like watches and jewelry, as well as hand bags, and electronics like smartphones, etc. Here are some of the end-of-season-sales that you might want to check out:

1. Puma is offering as much as Rs 6000 off on running shoes, sports shoes, limited edition shoes, and men’s and women’s jackets. You can check out the discounts and offers at the online store of the brand or head to your nearby retail store.

2. Sports retail brand Decathlon is also holding an end of season clearance sale on products ranging from hiking boots and shoes, socks, shirts and trousers, to sunglasses, sports watches, and other sports and camping gear. The discounts and offers of upto 50 per cent are available on there online store as well.

3. Flipkart has announced its biggest ever end-of-season sale that started on June 11 and will go on till June 19. The sale features some of the biggest fashion brands. The Flipkart Fashion Days sale has discounts and offers on not just clothes and footwear, but a range of other products.

4. Shop Clues is also holding its end of season sale with heavy discounts on brands like Liberty, Action in footwear, Globus, Libas, Soch, Folklore and Femella in clothing, and fashion accessories from Lavie and Baggit. Check the website for more information.

5. Jabong is also holding a clearance sale on men’s shirts, t-shirts, trousers, jeans and shorts, as well as women’s kurtis, shirts, tops, trousers and jeans, dresses and other clothing items. The sale features brands like Park Avenue, Wrangler, Levis, United Colors of Benetton, Arrow for men and Global Desi, Vero Moda, Only, Elle and other for women. The discounts are as high as 50 per cent.

6. Aditya Birla’s abof is also holding a clearance sale of clothing and footwear with discounts going up to 60 per cent.

Smartphone sales in SA, rest of Africa tank

Mobile phone sales in South Africa and the broader continent fell “drastically” in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the fourth quarter of last year, new research released by International Data Corp this week shows.

The technology research and consulting firm’s newly released Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows overall shipments in the first quarter totalled 54,5m units, down 8,2% on the fourth quarter of 2016.

The main culprit of this downturn was a “stark” 17,6% decline in the smartphone segment, with shipments falling from 25,8m units to 21,2m.

The data shows feature phones — phones with only basic features such as voice calls and SMS texting — remain in demand across Africa as the downturn in several key economies puts smartphones out of reach of many consumers.

When viewed year on year, the overall mobile market was up 8,4%, mainly due to feature phone shipments growing from 26,6m units in the first quarter of 2016 to 33,3m units in the same quarter a year later.

“Feature phones have now been rising as a proportion of the total market for more than a year, which highlights the continuing importance of basic mobile communications in many parts of Africa, particularly in rural areas,” IDC said.

The decline in smartphone shipments in the first quarter of 2017 was caused by substantial sequential declines in the continent’s three largest smartphone markets: South Africa (-13,6%), Nigeria (-8,1%) and Egypt (-11,5%).

“In South Africa, the drop was mainly due to high levels of stock in the channel from previous quarters,” said Nabila Popal, a senior research manager at IDC. “Nigeria’s decline was caused by the ongoing recession in the overall economy as well as difficulties in accessing foreign currencies for imports, while continuing exchange-rate difficulties were also behind the major decline seen in Egypt.”

East Africa strong

Markets in East African performed stronger than any other region on the continent in terms of smartphone shipments, with Tanzania and Uganda seeing substantial quarter-on-quarter increases of 8,1% and 11,6% respectively. The Kenyan market, which has seen big gains in smartphone shipments over the last two years, was more subdued in the first quarter, with shipments declining slightly by 1,3% on a sequential basis.

Samsung Electronics remained Africa’s leading smartphone vendor, with 29,8% share in the first quarter, up on the previous two quarters but slightly down on a year ago. Its big rival in Africa, the China-based Transsion group, took second place with 23,9% share of the smartphone market, thanks to its diversified portfolio of midrange phones and strong focus on the sub-US$150 price segment, IDC said.

In the feature phone space, however, it is Transsion that dominates, not Samsung. Its Tecno and Itel brands accounted for three out of every five feature phones shipped across the continent in the first quarter.

IDC expects Africa’s overall smartphone market to recover slowly from its current lull to a state of growth.

“Despite the tough macroeconomic conditions currently inhibiting much of the region, smartphone prices continue to fall and this will drive their adoption across Africa,” it said.

Almost 40% of all smartphones shipped in Africa in the first quarter of 2017 were priced below $80, up from 28% two years ago.  — © 2017 NewsCentral Media

Sony culling ‘Premium Standard’ smartphones, blames poor sales

Sony has vowed to kill off ‘Premium Standard phones, the company’s line of affordable near-flagship smartphones.

During the company’s 2017 Investor Day, Sony pledged to eventually discontinue the ‘Premium Standard’ smartphone range following an uninspiring sales performance.

Examples of these handsets include 2016’s Sony Xperia X and Sony Xperia X Compact. Both featured relatively premium specs, but were priced more affordably to entice users who didn’t want to spend big bucks on a fully-fledged flagship phone.

According to Sony’s own figures, the company managed to hit 85% of its volume targets for the year with this range. However, outside of Japan, Sony achieved just 31% of its targeted volumes.

Sony Xperia X Compact review

The new strategy for Sony is to focus only on flagship and mid-range models. For instance, Sony is pinning high hopes on the new Sony Xperia XZ Premium, which was announced earlier this year and runs on Qualcomm’s latest and most powerful mobile chip, the Snapdragon 835.

Sony Mobile has struggled to secure a dominant proportion of market share in recent years. This is partly due to the persistently strong mobile offerings from premium brands like Apple and Samsung, as well as dominant Asia-focused players like Xiaomi and Huawei.

There’s also the issue that Sony’s smartphone design has stayed true to the ‘Omnibalance’ aesthetic for many years, leaving most of its phones looking near-identical. Also, Sony has a very broad mobile portfolio that lacks a clear naming strategy, which may confuse the average high street consumer.

One of the smartphones facing the chop, the Xperia X, received a 3/5 score in our review last year, with Mobile Editor Max Parker bemoaning the phone’s “boring design, unreliable camera, awful button placement” and the apparent poor value for money.

Similarly, the Xperia X Compact also received a 3/5 score, and was slammed for its “ugly design, slow and unreliable camera” and the expensive price.

Asus to Reportedly Kill Its ZenWatch Android Wear Lineup Due to Poor Sales

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Asus has shipped an average of 5,000-6,000 ZenWatches per month
  • Huawei and LG have also slowed down their smartwatch efforts
  • Asus’ last major Android Wear smartwatch was the ZenWatch 3

Asus to Reportedly Kill Its ZenWatch Android Wear Lineup Due to Poor Sales

Asus may just kill its ZenWatch lineup of Android Wear smartwatches soon, according to some reports that have recently surfaced. It seems that Asus is having a tough time selling its smartwatches and the low sales may just push the company to pull the plug on the smartwatch.

The Taiwanese company, according to a report from Digitimes, has been shipping an average of 5,000 to 6,000 ZenWatches per month, which is not a good sign when compared to the likes of Apple, Xiaomi and Fitbit who have shipped their respective smartwatches in millions in the past quarter.

Asus is not the only one who has given up on its Android Wear smartwatch. Lenovo brand Moto in December also put a hold on its smartwatch efforts, deciding not to launch a new wearable with the latest Android Wear 2.0. However, the company has not decided to kill its lineup just yet. Meanwhile, Huawei and LG have also slowed down their production citing a lack of interest in the market.

 

Notably, companies like Misfit, LG, Verizon and Tag Heuer have launched smartwatches running on the latest Android Wear 2.0. The new operating system was unveiled in February and brings a number of improvements over the first version including improved interface, customised watch faces, Google Assistant and Android Pay Support, among other things.

Asus’ last major Android Wear smartwatch was the ZenWatch 3, which was launched in India back in December starting at Rs. 17,599. The smartwatch sports a 1.39-inch Amoled display with a 400×400 pixel resolution (287ppi pixel density). It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 SoC, coupled with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of inbuilt storage.

India Tablet Sales Declined 16 Percent in March Quarter: CMR

HIGHLIGHTS
Sales of tablet PCs fell by 16 percent year-on-year, says CMR report
tablet shipments in the March quarter were also down by 6 percent
Datawind continued to hold the top spot with 34 percent market share
Sales of tablet PCs fell by 16 percent year-on-year to around 7.6 lakh units during January-March, hurt by lack of any promotional activity by device makers, says a report.

The tablet shipments in the March quarter were also down by 6 percent compared to the previous October-December quarter, the report by research firm CMR said.

Datawind continued to hold the top spot with 34 percent market share, followed iBall with 16 percent share, the report said. Samsung had 15 percent share while homegrown Micromax had 8 percent share.

“The continuous decline in the tablet space could be attributed to the lack of promotional activities in the space.

Aadhaar has, of course, provided a lot of impetus to the market (as it increases orders from government sector),” CMR Lead-Analyst (Tablets) Menka Kumari said.

India Tablet Sales Declined 16 Percent in March Quarter: CMR

However, at the same time, B2C consumption entirely depends on the promotional activities and some exciting features, she added.

CMR said upcoming GST regime is also going to affect the tablet market, but the magnitude can be gauged only later as a lot of clarity is expected to come on the implementation front.

4G tablets segment will constitute 50 percent of the market by the end of this year, the report added.

According to CMR’s “India Quarterly Tablet PC Market Review-1Q 2017” report, Android-based tablets have already captured the majority of the market while Windows-based tablets have seen continuous decline in India.

“The smartphone market has moved towards 4G and the tablets segment would also follow the same trend. The demand for SIM-enabled devices will continue to grow while Wi-Fi enabled devices will continue to see demand from the student community,” said Menka Kumari, Lead Analyst, Tablets, CMR, in a statement.

4G and 3G-based tablets witnessed sequential increase of 15 percent and 31 percent in terms of units shipped.

Alternatively, 2G and Wi-Fi based tablets saw a sharp decline of 62 percent and 33 percent, respectively, as compared to the previous quarter, the findings showed.

The tablet market within the price category of Rs. 10,000-Rs. 20,000 and less than Rs. 5,000 witnessed 48 percent and four percent sequential growth, respectively, during the quarter.

On the other hand, the price category of Rs. 20,000-30,000 saw a sharp 61 percent sequential decline, the report added.

Written with inputs from PTI and IANS

Russ Darrow Group ranked first in Wisconsin for used car sales

Russ Darrow Group was again ranked as the number one used car dealer in Wisconsin based on results compiled by Automotive News and published in the publication’s March 2017 issue.

Image result for Russ Darrow Group ranked first in Wisconsin for used car sales

Darrow was ranked number 43 in the country, selling 13,691 used vehicles in 2016, an increase of more than three percent when compared to the group’s 2015 used car sales.