Following the trend initiated in February 2020, with a decline of 9.2% of exports, the FHS, the Swiss Watch Federation, just released its export statistics for the month of March 2020, showing even more than before the effect of COVID-19 on the markets – but keep in mind that these numbers are related to exports, not to sales to final clients. For the period, the Federation reports that exports fell sharply, decreasing by 21.9%. Certainly a terrible situation, it seems “less dramatic” than what we would have expected… But the worst is yet to come.
The value of exports for Swiss Watches is declining sharply with a decrease reported close to minus 22%, although, as the FHS states, “the decline was nonetheless lower than the drop in sales in some of the main markets“. Even more significant is the fall in volume, at -41.3%, which is more representative of the real state of the market. The lower-end segments, especially the CHF 200-500 range, are particularly impacted with -55% in value and in volumes. The higher-end segment watches with an export price above CHF 3,000, seem to be less impacted with only -10% in volume. In total, the number of watches exported fell by almost 700,000 in March, producing an unprecedented monthly figure of 900,000 units.
More surprising is the breakdown per country, where important disparities are shown by the FHS. For instance, the exports to the US market are up by an impressive +21%, where watches priced at over CHF 3,000 grew strongly there, anticipating future shipping difficulties. Also up is China, at +10% after falling by half in February, also anticipated by the end of the crisis. The most important declines are seen in Hong Kong (-41.3%) and in European markets, massively impacted by the Coronavirus. Italy is down 57%, France is down 48% and Germany and the UK are down 33%.
All in all, the situation is tense for the Swiss Watch Industry, but the Swiss Watch Federation is also warning of the fact that “a probable deterioration” is anticipated in April 2020.
More details at www.fhs.swiss.