Thursday, September 21, 2017

Is the Recovery Real?

The results for August are in, and strictly looking at the numbers, they would appear very encouraging.

Courtesy of the FH

And in fairness, they show a very positive trend.  The export numbers are, indeed, up.  But the tell-tale realities remain - sales are not up to a level that would clearly state that things are back to normal.  And that remains the $64,000 Question - when will the export numbers truly measure the strength and stability of the Swiss Watch Industry?

One key time period we should all be waiting on is the first (and possibly second) quarter of next year.  As I and many others have mentioned - the new standards for what make a Swiss watch "Swiss" go into effect, and there is a not so subtle push to get as much product outside of the borders of Switzerland as possible before the odometer turns on January 1.  Export numbers are simply that - export numbers.  They do not tell us whether manufacturing numbers are up, they do not tell us that sales are up.  When we are talking about the major groups, all that they are really telling us is that products have been transferred from HQ to a subsidiary.  

Now one other interesting item to consider - the US market is STILL down.  And in fact it is down nearly 5%.  Also interesting to relate with that number being as low as it is, the US is still #2 in global exports...  
I am no economist and am not on the shortlist to replace the current Secretary of Commerce, but the numbers don't really make sense.

We will wait and we will see - and hopefully we'll see an actual recovery.  But what we in the press, and many of you consumers have absolutely no way of knowing - is just how much of this export increase is due to a business improvement, and how much of it is a flush of product prior to January 1?

To be really, really clear - I personally want to see things improve.  I am tired of reporting on less than inspiring results.  But the industry, and those who ran the brands and wrote the checks have spent the last 7 years pigging out and forgetting the lessons that they should have taken to heart then.  Let's see if the lesson sticks this time.

Stay tuned.

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