Value sales of watches in Western Europe declined in 2019, dragged down by a weak performance by the basic and mid segments, as consumers move to smartwatches and/or hybrid ones. A positive showing by high-end watches across countries in 2019 and over the forecast period will set the growth path for watches overall in Western Europe.
Struggling economies across the region are impacting watches sales significantly, due to increasing fears of recession in major markets like Germany and Italy.
Western Europe has a long-standing reputation in luxury timepieces. Tourist purchasing accounts for a large proportion of total market value, and in recent years, arrivals have been increasing. Fears of terrorism, which caused declines in the past, have reduced, and there has been a greater focus on Chinese and other Asian customers, with efforts to make the purchase process more user-friendly.
Regional sales of basic and mid watches declined over 2014-2019, while sales in the high segment grew. This trend was a result of the appearance of smart and hybrid watches, which have taken sales from the lower priced segments.
Internet retailing has a lower share in watches than in many other industries, mostly as the items tend to have fairly high unit prices, and consumers prefer to see and touch the items before purchasing. Nevertheless, the channel’s share of sales value is increasing year-on-year, with no sign of this growth slowing. With an increasing number of retailers focusing on e-commerce, prices are under pressure, with some brands seeing their prices cut significantly, with a negative impact on their shares and on overall industry value.
Watch brands whose core business is designer apparel, such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton, have tended to perform well, as a result of more collections being released, meeting consumers’ desire to change their look regularly.
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