‘A luxury, not a priority’: customers vanish from jewellery market

From 80 per cent here to 90 per cent and up to 100 elsewhere, jewellers varied in estimating how much business had dropped.

Written by Mohammad Hamza Khan | Jaipur | Published:November 24, 2016 2:33 am
jaipur, jaipur jewellery  market, jewellery  markets, jaipur johari market, jewellery market, jaipur news, india news At Johri Bazaar in Jaipur, a showroom waits for customers. (Express Photo by Rohit Jain Paras)

Mohit Agarwal, 29, was helping his mother rearrange a section of their jewellery showroom in Jaipur’s Johri Bazaar, while his father was on the phone. No one other than the three was in the showroom, where neatly arranged gold and silver items shone through glass boxes.

“Business has fallen up to 80 per cent. There have been no cash-on-delivery orders since demonetisation,” said Mohit Agarwal. His mother said, “This is wedding season but the market is desolate.”

From 80 per cent here to 90 per cent and up to 100 elsewhere, jewellers varied in estimating how much business had dropped. At Ashoka Jewellers, Hemraj Tekwani, 74, said, “Ninety per cent. The impact will be clear only in coming months. There are staff, security, electricity bills, sales tax, VAT, we will have to see how long we can sustain this.”

Kailash Mittal, president of jewellers’ body Sarrafa Traders Committee, estimated: “In this wedding and tourist season, showrooms usually see daily sales between Rs 25-30 crore but now it is barely Rs 2 crore. Jaipur has 1,500 to 2,000 jewellery showrooms with about 10,000 employed directly or indirectly. Big showrooms, which employ 40-50, are already laying off their staff. What will such persons do? They will be forced to steal.”

Smaller businesses, such as one in old Jaipur by brothers Zakir and Azhar Ali, 56 and 48, have not seen a single customer since the announcement. Larger establishments or common people give them manufacturing orders. “Business is zero. We have not had a single customer since then,” Azhar said.

In Sitapura on Jaipur’s outskirts are the Export Promotion Industrial Park and two special economic zones.“About 30,000 are employed in gems and jewellery factories; domestic demand has shrunk by 50 per cent,” said Vijay Chordiya, president of Sitapura Gems and Jewellery Industry Association.

“The effect on jewellery shops is spilling over to factories, as there is little demand. Whatever support there is for the factories, is due to exports, though even that is on a slowdown,” Chordiya said. He estimated the factories’ business at Rs 1,000 crore annually.

The Jewellers Association of Rajasthan held a meeting over demonetisation Monday. “We support the decision. We decided to organise the unorganised part of our business; we will pay artisans and our employees through their bank accounts,” said association secretary Rajesh Dhamani.

The associated wedding market too has been badly hit, said Arun Singh, 34, director at Shaadiwala that organises high-end weddings. “People are re-negotiating, they are postponing weddings, and we’ve also had two or three cancellations,” Singh said.

Mayur Saini, 28, who handles smaller weddings, said, “Some customers who wanted a wedding in February-March now want to push them to December next year.”