In the aftermath of the Brexit vote in 2016, watches in the UK enjoyed extraordinarily rapid growth, driven by a stock market crash and subsequent swing in the exchange rate of the pound sterling vs other currencies – making the UK an extremely affordable market for the global luxury consumer. This political and economic fallout resulted in bulk-buying and stock-piling of luxury watches and jewellery.
As highlighted by the post-Brexit scramble, the international market for UK watches is heavily influenced by factors like exchange rates and political developments, making it a somewhat more volatile consumer base. However, the domestic market remains strong and it is becoming an increasing focus for both retailers and brand owners.
While the online channel continues to enjoy strong year-on-year growth in watches in the UK, these growth rates are set to slow over the forecast period as the barriers that consumers face when it comes to purchasing high-ticket products online persist. Despite the fact that UK consumers are among the most digitally-savvy globally and have wholeheartedly embraced online shopping within the wider retail industry, the share of online sales of watches continues to lag behind.
While watches has continued to enjoy value growth in the UK, it is becoming increasingly skewed, with heavy reliance on high-end luxury brands, while brands in the sub GBP500 space are facing growing uncertainty. A number of factors are contributing to the slowdown of basic and mid-level watches.
The luxury industry is enjoying strong growth, and this has impacted the high-end watch segment, which continues to shine, despite the increase in the average price point of Swiss brands. The most notable gain was made by leading player, Rolex, which has enjoyed outstanding growth in the UK over the past 2-3 years.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our watches market research database.