Britain’s watch sales rose by almost 10% in March, despite the country remaining in one of the toughest lock downs in the world and non essential retail still being closed.
Rising consumer confidence coupled with the extraordinary adaptability of retailers will both have contributed to the positive result, which outperforms the wider market for non essential goods by a considerable margin.
WatchPro and GfK re-calibrated the price points for which we publish data every month, with more precise tracking of higher price points.
This makes comparisons to last year and 2019 more difficult, but it is clear that the ultra-luxury end of the watch market is contributing most to the overall growth in the value of watch sales in Britain.
Sales for watches priced at £5,000 to £10,000 were up by 26.9% in March and the over £10,000 price category rose by 9.9%.
GfK’s data for WatchPro does not include smartwatches from tech companies so the sub-£500 watch category continues to shrink. Sales were down 9.7% in March and are down 27.4% year on year for the first quarter.
Diverging performance of the top and bottom of the watch market shows up starkly in sharply rising average transaction values, which were up 33.7% in the first quarter of 2021.
This means the total value of watches sold at all price points was able to rise by 9.9% in March while the total number of units sold dropped by 12.7%.
Online sales have continued to rise in comparison to Q1 of last year, up 124.8% over the corresponding three months in 2019 but is still thought to be well under 20% of the overall watch market.
Sales through brick and mortar stores have been remarkably resilient. In London, the value of sales was down just 24.1% in Q1 while outside London fared slightly better with a contraction of 20.6%.
Watch retailers have performed far better in the most recent lock down compared to the first wave when stores when sales fell by over 80% year on year in both April and May 2020 before recovering in the second half of the year.