Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Remember Singapore?

Apparently the FH has already forgotten ; ) 

Try to remember, that kind of September...
To refresh your memory about last month's results -

Interesting to relate, Singapore rocketed into the third position for September's numbers.  In fact, Singapore's rapid rise is curious at best, or to put it more plainly, somewhat dubious.  And I think the numbers as reported by the FH bear this dubious curiosity out:

1.  Hong Kong 213.4 Million CHF, 12.1% export share, an increase of 13.7%.

2.  USA 198.8 Million CHF,  10.9% export share, a decrease of -0.6%.

3.  Singapore 122.2 Million CHF, 10.1% export share, an increase of - wait for it - 89.6%!

Un petit mystère, n'est-ce pas?

Clearly, a lot can change in 31 days.  Singapore was not in the top 6 in October, moving from lightning in a bottle, to a fart in a whirlwind in just one month.

With the latest numbers out, it would seem that MIGHTY Singapore... has fallen from # 3 to ... I can't honestly say because the public report only gives country breakdowns by the top six, and Singapore did not make the cut.

Courtesy of the FH
Interesting to relate, overall the export numbers are up.  And while I suspect certain winners of the Swiss DNA Olympics will decide that their family cartels have earned a nice bonus, there are certain things that seem, well, goofy about the latest batch of numbers.

Hong Kong was the big winner with an increase of 15.8% and  securing 13.3% of exports.

And believe it or don't - the USofA can shout - "We're Number Two!"   183.3 million Swiss Francs in export reported, 9.9% of export percentage... and -7.3% in export value.  Yes, that is indeed a NEGATIVE 7.3%.  Now this could be due to many different things.  Remember Puerto Rico?  Well, it's okay if you don't, neither does President Trump, but for the watch industry it is a pretty important location.  And when half of Puerto Rico doesn't have electricity (granted, that is merely an estimate at this point), it ceases to be such a hot draw for cruise ships and tourism and bargain watch shopping.  But considering that the US numbers have not been great for some time, and that October is typically when product is being sent out to the US to be ready for the November/December shopping season, this is a troubling result.

Of course, the world is far bigger than the US, and China and Japan prove that point.  But they also tell an interesting story -

China was up by 18.2%, and Japan?  In fact, Japan was the big winner of Export Bingo with an uptick of 21.7%!  And that is a very curious time sequence.  Now it might be that Japanese distributors are anticipating a particularly juicy New Year sales period, and maybe Bonus Season is going to be better than previous years.  For those of you not familiar with the Japanese Bonus Season phenomenon -

The winter bonus is called 冬期賞与 (toki shoyo) by companies and 冬期一時金 (toki ichijikin) by unions and is paid in December.[1]
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Typically, bonus season is when you will find foreign English teachers scouring the suburban Gomi Pits (garbage collection sites) for gently used electronics being cast off by Salary Men and Career Women -

Salaryman (サラリーマン, Sararīman, salaried man) refers to a man whose income is salary based, particularly those working for corporations. It has gradually become accepted in Anglophone countries as a noun for a Japanese white-collar worker or businessman. The term salaryman refers exclusively to men; for women the term career woman or, for lower prestige jobs, office lady is used.
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Needless to say, I don't think you will be finding "previously loved" Swiss watches floating around the garbage cans of Hachioji and Tachikawa ; )

But more importantly, it is a very, very strange increase.  Tell me 10% I'll say well done.  Tell me 15% I'll ask if you've been drinking.  Tell me more than 20%?  I am genuinely doubtful. No offense, but I lived in Japan during the boom times.  And these aren't them.

Overall, the numbers still don't really add up.  Because what is REALLY going to signal a recovery is not export numbers, but actual retail results.  I might be the only one out there who does not see all sunshine and unicorns in this month's results, but shipping a watch outside of the Swiss Federation does not equal a sale.  When Tourneau is said to be actively seeking a buyer for their business, it does not bode well for a particularly strong holiday sales season here stateside.  I can't really speak to how things are going everywhere else, but the number of Linkedin connections from the Swiss watch industry that I have that have updated their status to "seeking new exciting opportunities" does not lead me to believe that things are really that much better.

But then again, I might well be wrong ; )

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