Swiss Shows come Roaring Back

What a difference a year makes! The gloom overhanging the international spring Swiss watch shows—and the watch business generally in 2003—was replaced at this year's shows by a sense of optimism, strong sales gains, and increased attendance by retailers from around the world, especially from the United States. Concerns about Asia's SARS epidemic, terrorism, and the start of the war in Iraq dampened attendance and business last year at international trade fairs in Europe and elsewhere. But this year, the eight-day BaselWorld 2004—the world's oldest watch and jewelry trade show, featuring 2,186 companies from 44 nations—reported a 39% gain in attendance over 2003 (and 8.2% over 2002) to 89,350. As early as the second day, visiting Americans already had equaled their entire 2003 attendance figure (800). "People are here in a big way this year, way ahead of last year," noted Lisa

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