The value of all watches sold in April was down by 2.9% over the same month in 2017, according to the latest data from retail analyst GfK.
It is the first year-on-year decline since October 2017, and part of a longer term trend of slowing growth since the post-Brexit period of exceptional sales.
Growth for the 12 months to April 2018 is still in positive territory, up 6.2% on May 2016 to April 2017.
The hottest parts of the British market: luxury watches, London and online sales, all cooled in April.
The value sales for watches priced at over £1000 is still up, but by only 2.7% in April. A year ago the annual growth rate was a dizzying 44%.
The fall in the total value of sales in London and the rest of Great Britain were almost identical in April at -2.6% and -2.9% respectively.
The volume market for watches priced at uunder £500 continues to be challenging, with smartwatches and other wearables taking sales away from traditional watches, whilst the younger generations no longer have the same need for a watch as older consumers, Paul Mitchell, GfK’s senior client insight director, MDA/Lifestyle, suggests.
Online sales have declined for a sixth month in a row, although at a slower rate than the total value of sales for watches priced at under £500, so there is no reversal in customer behavior towards shopping in stores at the volume end of the market.
Mr Mitchell says that the year-long trend of slowing growth is unlikely to be reversed this year. “I think it’s safe to say that year on year growth is no longer guaranteed, as it was in the period following Brexit. Quite how the rest of the year will play out is uncertain, at best there will be some growth (with high end perhaps buoyed by the summer tourist season), at worst the losses under £1,000 will worsen whilst online may have reached a plateau,” he suggests.