Although luxury timepieces increased in current value terms in 2018, and this is expected to continue in the forecast period, a gradual slowdown in the growth rate is expected from 2019. A sluggish economy and trade uncertainty are expected to limit domestic potential, whilst increasing tourism and immigration will support growth.
Tourism remains a key driver of spending on luxury timepieces, with growing numbers of international tourists visiting Canada’s destination cities of Toronto and Vancouver. These two cities serve as the primary direct retail operations for luxury timepiece companies such as Cie Financière Richemont, for example, which operates six stand-alone boutiques at Yorkdale Mall in Toronto for Piaget, IWC Schaffhausen, Officine Paneri, Vacheron Constantin, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Although luxury wearables in Canada is still in the development phase, both traditional watchmakers and luxury brands such as Hermès and Louis Vuitton view smart wearables as a potential growth driver and a solution to offset the expected slowdown in sales of traditional luxury timepieces over the forecast period. During the period 2015-2017, a number of traditional watchmakers launched wearables, with TAG Heuer, Frédérique Constant, Breitling and Mondaine unveiling smartwatches at Baselworld 2015.
Omega (Swatch Group) remained the leading brand in luxury timepieces in 2017, followed by Rolex (Rolex Canada), TAG Heuer (TAG Heuer International – LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) and Cartier (Cartier International – Cie Financière Richemont). These brands have built strong brand awareness and an established presence through authenticity, high quality and a long watchmaking heritage.
Although 2018 saw a modest increase in sales of luxury timepieces in Canada, 2017 and 2018 also witnessed slowdowns in growth. Factors driving this included the competition from smartwatches and increased price competition from the rise of online shopping.
Jewellery and watch specialist retailers remained the leading distribution channel for luxury timepieces in Canada in 2018. Most manufacturers of luxury brands of watches operate a limited number of boutiques and rely on jewellery and watch specialist retailers to distribute and represent their brands.
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