167,000 fewer watches sold in the UK last year

TOKYO, JAPAN - APRIL 24: A customer selects a new Apple Watch from a display at a store on April 24, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan. The Apple Watch launched globally today after months of publicity and pre-orders. However the smart watch was not sold from Apple stores but from a handful of upscale boutiques at select locations around the world in a bid to position the watch as a fashion accessory. Apple has been directing people to order online preventing the long lines usual seen with the launch of iPhones and iPads. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

The UK watch trade shifted 167,000 fewer watches last year than it did the previous 12 months as the market saw a decline in the physical number of pieces sold.

New figures from research house GfK show that the reduction in unit sales led to the size of the market shrinking by almost 2% on the year before.

However, while the numbers will ring alarm bells with watch retailers, GfK’s Jonathan Hedges said the slowdown in volume actually masked incredibly healthy growth in the value of the UK watch market due to rising average prices.


He said: “With an average selling price in 2015 of £142 per product sold, this could have potentially led to a deficit in sales value of nearly £24m for 2015 and yet not only did the sales value not fall, they actually increased by just short of £105m in the last 12 months.”

Strong, double-digit growth in luxury watch sales (above £1,000) was one of the main reasons for the market’s ascent, while watches listed below £100 also made a significant contribution as average prices increased 7% despite unit sales slumping 3%.

The rise in the consumers’ spending power over the past five years has seen the industry experience a 30% increase in value when comparing 2011 to 2015. The market is now worth £290m more than it was four years ago.

As a result, the UK wrist watch market is now valued at £1.3bn per annum, said Hedges.

Check out the February issue of WatchPro for further analysis of the UK market by GfK.

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  1. From an independents’ point of view, this can be seen as good news. Watch distributors have been incredibly tough, even unfair with ‘one size fits all’ distribution agreements. Brands and distributors will now understand and value quality independants when the larger multiples they favour no longer want their goods.


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