Total value of watch sales dips in March as London growth engine splutters


A dramatic spike in exports of Swiss watches to the UK in January and February has not fed through to higher sales for retailers, according to the latest monthly report from retail analyst GfK.

Exports to the UK rose by 41% in the first two months of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018, the Federation of Swiss Watch Industry says.

But GfK revealed this week that the value of watch sales at retail in Great Britain dropped by 1.5% in March.




The surge in Swiss watch exports at the start of the year has been attributed to stockpiling by retailers and wholesalers ahead of a potentially messy cliff edge Brexit that might have crashed the pound. That threat now appears to have been averted or at least delayed until October.

Watch sales are still up in Great Britain for the first quarter since values rose by 7% in January and 5% in February; impressive gains given the strength of the market in Q1 2018.

Watches priced at over £1000 are the only part of the market still growing, with values rising by 4.2% in March.



The market for inexpensive watches remains in sharp decline. The value of watches sold at prices between £100 and £500 dropped by 22% in March while those costing less than £100 was down 11%.

London no longer outpaces growth rates in the rest of Great Britain. For the past year growth rates have been similar inside and outside of the capital. In March, London sales shrunk by 7% compared to 2018 while the rest of Great Britain grew at 4%.

There are no signs of revival for online sales, which have shown negative growth in 13 out of the last 17 months since November 2017.



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