Friday, December 22, 2017

Exports Are Up! So Sales...

Are not necessarily.

Confused?  Fair enough, many have given up trying to make any sense of how the Swiss export numbers actually match up to real sales. 
Courtesy of the FH

On the one hand, the numbers continue to show improvement.  And that would seem to be good news.  But the fact that larger numbers of watches are departing the country does not correlate with greater sales.  So while some might think that happy days are here again, it might be useful to ask the question that continues to be pretty uncomfortable - just where are all of those watches really going?

Most of us can only really rely on anecdotal evidence as to the reality of the market place.  I visit a lot of retailers, and I talk to A LOT of brand managers.  And without putting too fine a point on it, I am not hearing the same level of optimism.  Now granted, this is by no means an exhaustive analysis.  But long story short?  The majority are still not seeing the kinds of sales that they did in the good old days.

Another measure of the industry's health can be taken by the brands participating actively in the grey and the light grey market.  Even the mighty Swatch group is seeing some of its shinier lower priced brands (Tissot and Hamilton) being dumped at more more than 40% off of retail on a few of the "group shop" sites.  Whether this product is coming directly from the brands or from disgruntled retailers remains to be seen.  And this is not one or two pieces, but fairly large amounts of inventory.  So on the one hand, it's definitely a buyer's market.  But on the other?  It underscores the reality that there are still too many watches sloshing around the market place.  Which means that space has to be made for the new flood of watches steaming their way towards the US (and other ports).  And that still has not done enough to create the same type of uptick in the export figures for the US, which is reporting -0.4% for November.

Curious again are the numbers for Japan +22.5%.  

So, let's wait and see.  If the particularly goofy pr initiatives of some of the brands are anything to go by, in addition to the increasing number of job departures in mid-level industry positions, I suspect that the actual sales are not matching up to the number of watches departing the Swiss borders.


1 comment:

  1. Absolutely correct. Exports do not mean sales and even less sell out which is the only number that really counts. Also, when brands exchange gold watches and replace them by steel ones, only the latter will count as exports.
    I'm afraid the happy days are not back yet, not yet... Merry Xmas to all.