The sale of watches is often part of the same group as jewellery, one can call it watch-jewellery making.
The watch distribution market was worth €80 million excluding VAT in 2011. It should be noted that at that time, the effects of the crisis began to be felt and the market was more stabilised than developed. 2013 and 2014 also saw a decline in the market in terms of value. Large jewellery stores are the clear leaders in the distribution of watches, ahead of shopping centre jewellery stores and far ahead of costume jewellery stores or supermarkets. While French production of watches, jewellery, jewellery and goldsmith's trade held up well in 2016 with sales of €2.1 billion, up 1% on the previous year, there was nonetheless a decrease in sales in 2016. The value of sales amounted to €5.6 billion, a 2% fall in value compared to 2015, including a significant drop in watchmaking: sales fell by 9%.
Luxury giants dominate the watch market. However, the sector has seen the emergence of a gap between luxury itself and discount or even low cost. With the growth of online sales, even major brands can be found on the Internet at discounted prices. The distribution channels are varied for the watch as a single product, but renowned jewellery stores remain in pole position. Department stores are also important for watches and jewellery. Market leaders are those with the highest average prices, linked of course to the range of products sold. 2016 marks a reversal of trends: specialised stores in shopping centres grew by 2%, while jeweller-watchmakers saw their turnover contract by 2%. Online sales are booming with a +7% growth in 2016.
The strategies of watch retailers depend a lot on their business models. Department stores and jewellery stores rely on the major luxury brands, while costume jewellery stores offer more mid-range watches. Finally, independent e-commerce sites present the major risk of counterfeiting of major brands but still appeal to consumers with attractive prices.
Regulation has played and continues to play a major role, particularly in e-commerce. For the most luxurious part of the market, competition is strong but the number of competitors is reduced. As far as the impact of technology is concerned, connected “smart” watches do not yet seem to be a substitute for traditional watches and are therefore generally not marketed through the same distribution channels, but it is crucial to keep this trend in mind.
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