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British watch market enjoyed a late rally around Christmas

British watch retailers enjoy late rally after challenging summer and autumn.

Watches of Switzerland supremo Brian Duffy called last year’s Christmas trading period the most difficult to predict among his many decades at the sharp end of the luxury retail business.

Data from retail analyst GfK shows how choppy the season was, with a blistering first half of 2023 giving way to year-on-year declines through most of the summer and autumn.

November saw the sharpest fall, with the value of all watch sales in Great Britain declining YoY by 14%, but there was a late upturn in December, with a rise of 3%.

Gfk growth in sales all price points

The top end of the watch market was driving overall growth for the British industry throughout 2023, driving up average transaction values as the sub-£500 market continued its decade of decline.

Watches priced at over £10,000 saw sales increase by 18% in December, and those from £5,000 to £10,000 were also up by 3%.

All other price segments fell in December, with watches in the £1,000 to £3,000 ending a hugely challenging year with another annual fall.

Gfk growth in sales select price points

There was little difference between growth of watch sales in London and the rest of Great Britain for most of 2023, but the capital did enjoy a late surge, with sales up 14% in December.

The rest of Britain saw a dip of 8% in the Christmas month.

Gfk growth london versus regions

For the first time since May, growth in British watch sales was exceeded by growth in Swiss watch exports to the country.

The graph below does not show absolute numbers, but year-on-year growth by month. However, any sustained period when exports coming into Britain are growing faster than retail sales will lead to inventory building up at the wholesale or retail level.

Gfk growth uk sales verus swiss watch exports

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