It's that time once again

| 17 Nov 2017

Christmas shopping is here again. With a more robust economy, local tourism is picking up, and retailers are reporting steady improvements - even if the market is not exactly booming.

Karson Choi Ka-tsan, the chairman of Halewinner Watches, says business at the group's shops has become brisker, with demand outrunning supply for some brands.

The high-end chain runs sales outlets locally and in Macau. The biggest difference between the two places in doing business, says Choi, is rent. Despite adjustments, rent levels remain high in Hong Kong, but they are rather more reasonable in Macau. So the group has plans to open more shops there.

Macau tourist arrivals have also rebounded in 2017, Karson notes.

Sales patterns, meanwhile, differ between shops, with some focusing on pricey diamond timepieces and others on steel models. There's a range from HK$100,000 to HK$200,000.

The state of the watch market, he says, is healthier than when it last peaked. Most customers now buy for self-use or for a personal collection.

Among brands, Rolex performs most steadily. Sales has been very satisfactory as the brand gains wider recognition and acceptance among mainland customers, who didn't know it as well as Hongkongers in the past.

The Swiss luxury watchmaker regulates supply to retailers according to their previous sales levels, and the quotas for Hong Kong and Macau this year are still being affected by past doldrums in luxury goods sales.

With bullish consumer spending this season, customers who want models that are currently out of stock might have to wait. But next year should be better as improved sales figures this year will likely boost quotas.

Choi also tells me that Tudor, another Swiss brand, holds good potential as its market profile has risen due to consistent promotion in recent years.

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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