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Coronavirus-hit Swiss watch exports continue to plunge

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The Local - [email protected]
Coronavirus-hit Swiss watch exports continue to plunge
A window of a closed watch shop in Gstaad, Switzerland. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Swiss watch exports plunged again in June, an industry body said on Tuesday, though there were early signs of a potential uptick thanks to renewed demand from China.

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In April, exports plummeted by an annualised 81.3 percent, and were followed in May by an impressive decline of 67.9 percent as global sales took a time out amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In June, exports were still off by 35.1 percent compared with June 2019, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said in a statement, at 1.1 billion Swiss francs (1.0 billion euros, $1.14 billion).

But, "as the first country to fall victim to the pandemic and therefore the first to recover, China saw a very sharp increase in demand for Swiss watches," the statement noted.

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In June, exports of Swiss watches to China were in fact 47.7 percent higher than during the same month a year earlier. The federation thus underscored "possible hints of the start of the expected recovery."

Meanwhile, exports to Hong Kong, considered a gateway to Asian markets, fell by 54.6 percent in June, and were 57 percent lower to the United States.

The sector has been knocked for a loss not only because stores closed during virus-triggered lockdowns in many countries, but also owing to a drop in visits to major European capitals by high-spending Asian tourists.

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