Retail sales analyst GfK has confirmed what business owners have been telling WatchPro for weeks: December sales were the worst in years, dropping year-on-year by 8.5% across all price points for watches.
The dismal performance in December wiped out what was already weak growth for the entire year, with 2019 ending with watch sales in Great Britain virtually unchanged (-1.2%) in comparison to 2018 at £1.5 billion.
Parliamentary chaos and a general election on December 12 preoccupied the nation, and price rises from the majority of watch brands in the third quarter whittled away at the country’s competitive advantage over other major markets.
Footfall was down year-on-year by 2.5%, according to market analyst Springboard.
Despite the average price paid for each watch rising by 7.1% in 2019, the volume of watches sold dropped by 7.8%.
The trend towards people buying more expensive models shows no sign of abating.
Watches costing more than £1000 was the only segment of the market that grew at all in 2019 (+3.1%), and now accounts for almost three quarters (74%) of the total value of all sales in Great Britain in 2019.
This compares to 49% of the value of all watch sales coming from the £1000+ end of the market in 2013, according to GfK data.
London watch sales declined by 7% in 2019 while the rest of Great Britain saw sales rise by 4.5%, according to GfK, although the biggest retailers in London, Bucherer and Watches of Switzerland say they are not seeing the same trend.