Swiss watch exports dropped by 81.3% in April to CHF 328.8 million as production and distribution ground to a halt.
Exports to the United Kingdom all but stopped, with a decline of 96.4%, although for the first four months of 2020, exports were down 38% thanks to strong sales into distribution in the first quarter.
Some manufacturers, notably those in the Swatch Group portfolio, have continued to manufacture in limited quantities throughout the pandemic, but most mothballed their factories from mid-March until late May, so recovery from the record lows in April will have slowly begun.
One way to glimpse into the future for countries in Europe where the pandemic has laid waste to the industry is to look at markets in the Far East.
Exports to China were down a more modest 16.1% in April and might already be back in positive territory for May. South Korea became the world’s fourth biggest export market for Swiss watchmakers in April because its imports were down 69%.
The world’s largest market for Swiss watches, Hong Kong, saw imports contract by 83.2% while the United States was down 86%.