Traffic Down, Sales Good for JCK Watch Vendors

The soaring price of gas (many Las Vegas show visitors drive the long stretches from nearby western states) and the rising, high cost of airline tickets (for those who normally fly there) had their effect at JCK Las Vegas 2008.

Show attendance was down—or so it looked to watch vendors on the floor. Many said the walk-by traffic seemed lighter than the 2007 show, with fewer walk-in browsers. (Indeed, Friday and Monday’s attendance seemed less, though Saturday and especially Sunday the show very busy.) However, none of those interviewed had a “bad” show in terms of business, they said. Most said they did satisfactory or well (in terms of actual and potential orders, and some new contacts).

“Business is better than expected but foot traffic is slow.” Vivian Bernstein, V.P. marketing, Cuervo y Sobrinos watches

“We’re very pleased with the response. It’s been a great response. We’ve seen interest by alot of stores.” Niresh Rajpersad, managing director, Coast Time, distributor of Azimuth Watch USA (making its US market debut a Las Vegas) and Swiss watch brand Paul Picot.

“The show has been very good, much better than last year. We met with all our clients who had appointments. But there seem to be fewer people this year [than last] but those who are here are quality retailers.” Christian Tse, president, Christian Tse Corp., the fine jewelry firm that introduced its new brand of luxury jewelry digital watches.

“The response, business and contacts have been above our expectations.” Christopher Mason, national sales manager of Puritime, the U.S. distributor of Orient Time, Japan’s largest producer of mechanical watches, making its official U.S. debut at the JCK show.

“We’ve had an amazing two days this weekend, in terms of business and contacts. People are very receptive.” Philippe Belais, president & CEO, Bertolucci timepieces.

“[The show’s] been good. We’ve had a lot of walk-ins.” Danielle Rake, manager of marketing, Fortis watches.

“Sunday was fabulous, the busiest I can remember. It’s been a very good show.” Mark Odenheimer, senior vice president, E. Gluck Corp., whose many watch brands include AK Anne Klein and Armitron.

“In terms of browsers and [foot] traffic, the show has been slow. Business with our regular clients who are here, though, was great. We’re very satisfied with the show, and we’ve made a lot of new contacts among high-end retailers.” Marco Frison, chief executive officer, Morellato & Sector USA, who many watch brands include Sector, Roberto Cavalli, Morellato and Philip Watch.

“This was a better show for us than last year. We’ve met with good-quality stores, even though there was less traffic. But jewelers who carry tradtional lines are looking for something new and different to offer.” Lydia Gauzer, director of marketing, Ernst Benz timepieces.

The lower attendance wasn’t limited to the show. It seems to affect much of Las Vegas. Taxi drivers said there seemed to be fewer people in town, some hotels were offering discounts and room upgrades to attract business, and a few execs of prestigious watch brands at the show reported no trouble at getting last-minute reservations for clients and themselves at pricey, upscale Vegas restaurants and night clubs. “That’s hasn’t happened before,” said one. “Usually, you have to make reservations weeks or even months in advance.”