Sales of luxury watches booming despite confinement and a sharp drop in sales at airports

Shoppers are still shopping for expensive watches and chic jewelry according to the country’s largest luxury watch retailer.

The latest figures from Watches of Switzerland show sales up almost a fifth in recent weeks, compared to last year, and despite a sharp drop in tourism sales.

The company – which also runs the Goldsmiths and Mappin & Webb chains – said revenue was helped in the last quarter, but an almost 50% increase in online sales in the UK.

The retailer, whose UK headquarters are in Leicester, said revenue for the past 10 weeks was £202.7million.

He said strong UK domestic sales had offset a decline in tourism and airport trade, which accounted for 9.2% of revenue – down from 32.5% in the same period last year.

He added that regional stores continued to outperform London stores where footfall remained low.

Sales in the United States, where it expanded rapidly, were £57.7 million in the quarter, up 43.4% from a year earlier.

In a trading update he said: “Luxury watches continued to outperform while luxury jewelery performed well with growth in both the UK and US markets.

“New product launches were also stronger than expected with a positive influence on sales

As a result, it revised up its full-year profit forecast from around £40m to between £880m and £910m.

Managing Director Brian Duffy said, “We are very pleased with our strong second quarter performance in market conditions that continue to be unprecedented.

“Our teams have done a fantastic job, responding positively and enthusiastically to these conditions, turning challenges into opportunities, while prioritizing the health and safety of colleagues and customers.

“Commercial momentum further improved in the second quarter.

“Stronger than expected domestic sales in the UK offset lower tourist and airport traffic, while regional stores continue to outperform London stores.

“Furthermore, the strong momentum we have established in the United States has further accelerated. All regions of the United States are contributing to this positive trend.

“Our outlook for the remainder of the year assumes that the positive trend seen in the second quarter will be moderated by the impact of the pandemic-related retail disruption in the UK and US and the uncertainty of the US economy, mainly affecting the third quarter.

“We do not assume any improvement in recent trends in the travel or tourism sectors.”

Floyd N. Morlan