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Time out in sales for luxury watch brands

With most shoppers seen to be economizing these days, the market for high-end, expensive watches is turned dull in Goa, reports Serilda Coutinho

The beginning of festive season in the state has failed to set the luxury segment of the watch market in Goa ticking.

According to dealers, sales for high-end watches are slow in the state and despite the wide choices in imported brands like Rado, Casio, Fossil, Seiko, Swatches, Swiss, Tissot, etc., locals are reluctant to spend on high-end luxury watches. Dealers say that, most consumers prefer to get their old, luxury brands serviced at the outlet rather than making a new purchase.

“This year we have witness a drop in sales by about 10-15 per cent compared to the previous year. While our expectations were high for festival purchases during the month of September the sales were lukewarm,” said a watch store owner from Mapusa.

Dealers revealed that, they are worried over the reduction in purchasing power among consumers by about 30-40 per cent. “Where earlier locals were ready to spend around Rs 5,000 on a watch, now they are looking for cheaper yet fashionable options in a lower price range. The price bracket in which consumers are ready to spend for gifts and personal purchase ranges between Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000,” says Iqbal Khan, owner, Time Collection, Panjim.

For Khan the chronograph segment has managed to contribute in a big way to the sales made this year. While for Costa’s Time Collection, Margao it is the fashion segment which is fast-moving.

Dealers have also observed a drop in footfall as the continuous drop in rupee value has forced consumers to spend their earnings on items of necessity rather than on luxury goods. To fit the budget of various consumers watch stores in Goa have also provided customers a choice with a wider price bracket. The Helios watch store, Panjim has a range up to Rs 10 lakh and at Costa’s Time collection, Margao, the top-end brand goes up to Rs 1.5 lakh, Time collection, Panjim range starts from and goes up to Rs3 lakh while at Javeri’s watch prices start from Rs 3,000 and go up to Rs 3.5 lakh.

“Affordable pricing gives consumers the flexibility to choose a watch according to their budget “says Mavany. He further adds that, several imported watch brands are available in the market but they have not yet made an appearance in local stores because of the lack of awareness of the brands. “Locals  pick up a wrist watch brand they are used to purchasing and hence lose on the chance to check out features offered in other brands.”

Expecting a better response while targeting the health conscious and tech-savvy consumers’ watch stores have stocked on fitbands and hybrid watches. “We have a dedicated range of fit bands starting from Rs12,000 going up to Rs 20,000” says Altaf Mavany, owner, Helios Watch Store, Panjim. However this segment has also failed to contribute to the overall sales as local dealers claim that this segment has a mere share of two per cent in sales this year.

“Most local buyers already have the best smart phones with step tracking, heart rate monitor and app notifications and prefer to use the phone rather than spending more to buy a hybrid watch” says Premal Javeri, owner, Javeri’s store, Panjim. But for Costa’s Time Collection, Margao the hybrid wrist watch is a promising segment

Hybrid watches combine smart watch functionality with the look of a traditional watch. Users can customize the buttons of a hybrid watch, which allows them to control phone’s camera, play songs from library, log progress on goals and more. Brands like Fossil and Emporia Armani have already made their entry in the hybrid segment in the state.  According to Micheal D’costa, owner, Costa’s Time Collection, Margao,  “The trend of hybrid watches came to Goa about three years ago and youngsters have started picking up the trend much faster pace. Once consumers start getting familiar with the usage of smart features like changing time zones automatically, prefixing  phone numbers and taking  selfies at a click of a button they will automatically upgrade their existing watch to a hybrid one.”

A big relief to local dealers is the GST on wrist watches that has been reduced from 28 per cent to 18 percent. “With the reduction in GST the prices of the wrist watches have come down and the recent drop in rupee value has not seen a drastic hike in prices as of now. But as most of the watches come in imported brand the weaker rupee impact has left us uncertain about the prices in the future,” says D’costa.

While dealers find a lack of enthusiasm among consumers the peak season starting from October to March is a ray of hope to boost sales. Mavany claims that, buyers usually spend extra on their wedding accessories especially watches as the overall budget for weddings in Goa is set high. While for D’costa it is his existing customer base looking to upgrade to new watches that can change the tides during the festive period.

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