PARIS — Swiss watch exports continued to slide in August, falling 8.8 percent despite a neutral base effect and an additional working day in the month, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said on Tuesday.
Foreign sales of Swiss timepieces totaled 1.4 billion Swiss francs due mainly to a 26.4 percent drop in exports of watches made of precious metals. Steel watches registered a 5.9 percent rise, with other materials up 16.8 percent.
“The value of watch exports was clearly influenced by pieces costing more than 3,000 francs (export price) which suffered a particularly steep decline. On the other hand, products priced between 200 and 3,000 francs posted significant growth,” the Federation said.
Hong Kong, the number-one market for Swiss watches, continued its steep downward trajectory with a 28.7 percent drop in August. The United States posted a 12.4 percent drop, confirming the trend seen in July.
But China registered a 29.1 percent jump in sales, helped by a favorable base effect. Exports to the United Kingdom were up 23.5 percent, as foreign shoppers flocked to take advantage of the weaker pound in the wake of the vote to exit the European Union.
Germany reported a drop of 14.7 percent, marking the fifth consecutive month of strong declines, as tourist demand remained subdued across Europe in the wake of a series of terrorist attacks. Exports to Japan tumbled 27.1 percent, as tourism was impacted by a strong yen.
Thomas Chauvet, analyst at Citi, said that while the figures represented a slight improvement from July’s 14 percent drop, the August performance continued to reflect elevated inventory levels in Asia and a cautious mood among watch retailers hit by market volatility, low oil prices and travel fears.
“We remain concerned about continued disruption in Hong Kong,” he said in a research note. “Mainland China continues to show improving trends (as confirmed by Richemont and Swatch Group), albeit at the expense of weaker tourist demand in Europe and Japan.”