Coronavirus-hit Swiss watch exports continue to plunge

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.

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.

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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