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Industry News – Swiss Watch Exports Collapse by 67.9% in May 2020


The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Swiss watch industry is severe. As countries around the world contend with the health emergency, the economic effects of suspending almost all activity have inevitably impacted the Swiss watch industry and will continue to do so for months to come. With manufacturing coming to a standstill and retail networks closed, Swiss watch exports collapsed by 67.9% at 655.6 million francs in May 2020, following a steep decline of -81.3% in April. Over the first five months of the year, shipments of Swiss watches are down 35.8%

All segments and all countries are sharply affected by the decline. The United States (-79.2%), Japan (-74.2%), France (-76.7%), Singapore (-74.8%) and the United Kingdom (-76.7%) were some of the most affected markets. Like in April, but to a lesser extent, the trend for mainland China was slightly better (-54.6%). At 102.2 million francs, China accounted for 29% of the total value of Swiss watch exports for the month. Things are slightly better there but it may not be what it seems; activity and sales trends are recovering with the relaxation of social distancing measures. Stores have reopened as the government promotes a return to business as usual. But Chinese consumers traditionally do only a fraction of their luxury purchases at home, and, more than anything else, the current figures reflect the repatriation of tourist spending.

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