Business Post-Covid ‘Revenge shopping’ to the rescue
Will the greatly anticipated post-Covid boom in watch sales actually happen? It’s still too early to say for sure, but the months of May and June were great for business, and all the signs point to a return to normal very soon
“The thousands and millions of dollars that have been injected into the world economy over the course of the last few months are still there. They haven’t evaporated. You just have to go and find them.” These are the words of an auctioneer, who is looking forward to getting back to business as usual. While his vintage timepieces will await the return of major saleroom events, brick-and-mortar retailers are already rubbing their hands.
“‘Revenge shopping’ is real”
“Activity has picked up since March,” confirms Laurent Michaud, owner of the shops that bear his name in Neuchâtel and Verbier. “European tourism is making a comeback, too. We’re very committed to our local Swiss customers, and what we’re seeing is that some of our clients don’t yet feel ready to travel abroad. But they do want to treat themselves in some way, and they want to do it now.
Michaud Boutique in Verbier © Michaud
‘Revenge shopping’ is real!” Revenge shopping? This concept has fed into several more or less plausible assessments of the reality of a return to business as usual, once the pandemic is behind us. Briefly, the idea is that people are cheerfully blowing the savings they built up over the last 18 months, while they were unable to spend on restaurants, travel, concerts and shopping. The sums in question are sizeable. In Europe, Crédit Suisse estimates that the additional savings represent 5% of GDP, or 810 billion dollars (741 billion CHF).
Michaud Boutique in Neuchâtel © Michaud
“Without spending excessively, people are treating themselves,” Laurent Michaud. “And many of these people are new clients.” Rolex is one brand that is benefiting handsomely from this phenomenon. “The brand is on fire, it’s almost absurd. But we have also been able to accelerate online sales for the more modest models, beginning at the CHF 3000 mark, for which home delivery represents considerable added value.”
Independent watchmakers have fared similarly well. Laurent Picciotto, founder and chairman of Chronopassion, confirms: “The month of May was excellent and, as things stand, we are ahead of our usual figures for June.” The Parisian trendsetter, who showcases niche brands and highly limited editions, witnessed the effect with the Octo Finissimo Tatto Aria, which he helped to design with Bulgari.
Laurent Picciotto © Chronopassion
The watch was produced in a limited run of 10. “I posted it on Instagram in the morning, and three or four were snapped up straight away. At lunchtime I had a video call with Fabrizio [Buonamassa Stigliani, executive director of creation for Bulgari], and another few went. By 6 p.m., the remaining two or three pieces had all found buyers. And even though there are none left, we still get messages about them every day.
Chronopassion Boutique © Chronopassion
Differing commercial approaches
Every store is doing its best to differentiate itself from the others. In response to the elite positioning of Chronopassion, Bucherer is deploying a growing network of boutiques all across Europe: it has stores in 36 choice locations, including 17 in Switzerland, 10 in Germany, a flagship store in Vienna, a boutique in Copenhagen and six shops in London.
The Parisian firm is without a doubt the world’s biggest watch and jewellery store. Also in Paris, Arije is focusing on its eclecticism: alongside watches and jewellery, it also features craftsmanship, independent contemporary artists, and even some specialist food items and boutique perfumes.
Bucherer Boutique in Paris © Michaud
“In 2020, people were caught off guard by the pandemic and the first lockdowns. But in 2021 people are taking genuine pleasure in shopping, and all the digital tools we put in place to stay in touch with our clients remotely are definitely here to stay,” Laurent Michaud concludes. Things are certainly looking up for the summer.