U.S. watch dealers are on the cusp of the same Coronageddon-caused sales decline that whacked Asian watch dealers. To wit: I received the email below this morning from my local authorized Rolex, Breitling, TAG Heuer, Grand Seiko, Cartier, etc. dealer. Ben Bridge Jewelers sent it just before Coronageddon officially hit Austin, with two reported cases . . .
Dear Valued Customer,
At Ben Bridge Jeweler, the health and well-being of our associates, our customers and their families is our first priority.
Please take comfort in knowing that our teams are continuously monitoring the situation related to COVID-19 and are taking precautions to prevent transmission. We closely monitor all health department guidelines and will be prepared to take additional measures should it become necessary.
We know that there are still joyful occasions to celebrate and we will continue to be here for you. We have taken steps to keep our stores clean and remain open. If you prefer, you can also reach your Personal Jeweler via phone or by visiting BenBridge.com.
Our thoughts are with all of those who have been affected. We will continue to do our part to make sure we are acting responsibly while still making it easy for you to mark special moments.
The Ben Bridge Family
It will certainly be a “special moment” when the coronavirus vaccine is commonly available and the American indeed the world economy gets back to normal.
U.S. watch dealers – those that survive – will eventually see a highly profitable sales surge, as cabin fever paranoia gives way to the inevitable consumer equation: I’m alive so I can spend! I can spend so I’m alive! That said, it will takes months if not a year if not more before consumer confidence reaches the dizzying heights it achieved just last year.
Meanwhile, I made some calls to random U.S. watch dealers in Texas, California, Florida, Chicago and the Northeast. The ones who’d talk to me – off the record – uniformly reveal that watch business is WAY off . The proprietors expect it to get worse – a lot worse – before it gets any better.
Internet sales or not, there’s going to be a massive amount of unsold inventory clogging the sales channels for at least the next four months, possibly all the way into 2021. That will kill pre-owned watch values and make dealers happy to sell new watches at cost-plus-not-much, if anything.
Buy, sell or hold, whatever you do, wash your hands, don’t cough on anyone and remember: this too shall pass. We are a consumer society, and consume we will. Watch this space.