Watch retailers will spend the next month finalising their product line ups for the pre-Christmas gift-buying period, with success depending on spotting what the hottest styles will be.
Trend-forecasting is an art rather than a science, but there are clues to the future if we look at the not too distant past.
GfK’s monthly retail tracker for June and July shows a dramatic shift in the average unit price of watches sold this summer compared to 2015.
In June, watches costing less than £1000 saw sales decline by around 10%. By July, watches in the £100-500 price range fell around 11.5% over the same month in 2015.
It is luxury watches costing upwards of £1000 that are flying out of stores, with sales rising 20% in June and a staging 35% in July.
Most watch retailers want to sell more expensive watches, but the biggest brands in this sector, Rolex, Omega, Tag Heuer and Longines, are highly selective about who they work with. If you aren’t selling these brands today, you will not be selling them later this year.
The fashion watch brands are less fickle, and this is an area where a more detailed look at trends can make the biggest difference to retailers.
For example, if you are filling your windows with £500 men’s watches, which will appeal to the highest number of potential shoppers.
Here, GfK data is even more useful. In June and July, sales of £500-1000 watches with leather straps grew by 13% and 21% respectively; while sales of watches with metal bracelets grew by an average of just 5% across the two months.
Ceramic watch sales continue to decline across all price points, but are particularly weak at the sub-£100 level and the slightly more expensive £100-500 price point.
There is also a marked slowdown in growth for women’s watches costing under £500 compared to last year, although 2015 was a year when Michael Kors watches were still flying so the only way was down.
Triangulating the GfK information tells retailers where to concentrate their buying and merchandising firepower, and the evidence suggests that men’s watches with leather straps costing upwards of £500 are the place to be this year.