Swiss watch exports to the UK had already started to sag in the fourth quarter of last year, with the last year-on-year rise recorded back in October.
Last year’s softness in the market was put down to political uncertainty around the UK leaving the European Union, but exports continued to decline in January and February this year, even when a general election was thought to have ended wrangling in Westminster.
Then came Covid-19, and a 96% drop in Swiss exports to the UK in April, followed by a 77% fall in May.
It looks improbable that sales lost in the Covid quarter will be recouped this year, but there is some optimism from July’s report from the Federation of Swiss Watch Industry, which shows that exports rose by 3% compared to July 2019.
Countries around the world began their recoveries at different times, and their progress is reflected in the Swiss export figures.
China saw a 59% rise in July but Hong Kong was down 43%. The United States was flat on the same month last year.
Overall, Swiss watch exports continued to fall significantly in July by 17% to CHF 1.6 billion, although that is half the 34% drop recorded in June.
For the first seven months of 2020, Swiss exports are down 32.4% over the same period last year.