Friday, June 23, 2017

Numbers Don't Lie... But Sometimes They Fib

May is now in the books, and it does appear that there might be a bit of a recovery in the works -

Courtesy of FH

As you will note, that pesky little blue line is inching upwards again, welcome news for one and all.  

More interesting to relate are the results from some specific markets:

Hong Kong is now up +18.1%

Italy is up 26.7%

and  China?   34.4%

Sounds really good, right?

Well, sorry to bring ants to a picnic, but there is more behind these numbers than I suspect the happy-shiny press releases are going to address.

Interesting to relate, watch brands are not heralding sales increases of the magnitude we are seeing from these numbers.  And the US?  Still in the red at -1.1%, with Japan still down at -3.2%.  BaselWorld and SIHH were stinkers both in terms of attendance and sales.

So this then brings up the next (let's be honest) obvious question - is something amazing going on in China, Hong Kong... and Italy?

I don't think so.  But there is a looming reality that could be spurring the export numbers to higher levels - the upcoming enforcement of "Swissness".  Because what this really means is that the vast number of watches already dressed-up with nowhere to go in the various Swiss warehouses?  They have to be out of the country, and soon.  Let's keep in mind that just because a watch has been exported, does not mean that it has, actually, been sold.  China and Hong Kong represent "safe harbors" where a big enough brand could shift the stock over to a subsidiary to either dump into the grey market, or to hang onto and strip for what they can get.  Italy while not in the same dire economic straights as, say, Greece or Spain still seems a bit unlikely to be a driver for as much watch "appetite" as these numbers would indicate.  One thing in Italy's favor?  Proximity, just across the border  ; )

So what does this all really mean?  Theories are just that, but mine is this:

We will, most likely, be seeing a very large number of grey market watches hitting the market very soon.  In other words?  Even more than now.  Some very large brands are currently investigating ways to sell their surplus watches via Amazon and other outlets.  And although several brands have cut production and are slowing down their output, there is still a mountain of unsold product which needs to be dealt with - and by the end of this year.

For the watch consumer?  It's going to be a great time to buy!

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