Despite that easing of the lockdown restrictions, jewellers across the state saw a 30-40 per cent dip in business during Dhanteras — considered auspicious for the purchase of gold and silver jewellery.
Ashish Zaveri, the spokesperson of Jewellers Association Ahmedabad (JAA), on Friday said though the market was stabilising slowly, business during Dhanteras was down by 30 per cent as compared to the previous year.
“Fear of Covid-19 infection is still deterring people to come to stores. Also, a comparatively higher gold price this year has meant fewer purchases on Dhanteras,” he said.
Currently, the price of 10-gram gold (24 carat) in Ahmedabad is around Rs 51,790. It was priced around Rs 39,000 last year during the festival.
In Gujarat, jewellers this year were mostly dependent on Dhanteras and Diwali, besides the upcoming wedding season in December-January for business. “With fewer NRIs from the US or UK likely to come to India (during Christmas holidays) due to the pandemic, we may not have any demand from the section in December this year,” Zaveri said.
The JAA said it was difficult to state the total amount of gold sold during Dhanteras. “Last year, gold worth Rs 200-250 crore approximately was sold in Gujarat. This year it will be less,” Zaveri added.
Despite the pandemic, the JAA spokesperson said not many people had preferred to buy gold online. “Gold is a business of trust. People prefer to visit jewellery showrooms to see the designs. But for Dhanteras, there is a higher demand for gold coins as compared to jewellery. People buy the coins for puja on the occasion.”
To avoid crowds at jewellery stores, the JAA, however, had asked their members to call their regular clients on the day at appointed time slots. “The big jewellers in Ahmedabad began taking orders over the phone since Thursday for those wanting to purchase coins. This way they could keep the parcel ready for their clients, who could come at a designated time slot on Friday and collect the product. However, jewellers are not discouraging walk-ins. The nature of the business is such that walk-ins cannot be discouraged,” Zaveri said.
In Rajkot, jewellers, however, expressed happiness over the customer footfall and the volume of business on the day. “As compared to the last year, the customer footfall was around 60 per cent. Nonetheless, it is a very heartening sign for the market. There was apprehension among jewellers that customers just might not turn up due to the economic impact of the lockdown and Covid-19 fears, but luckily customers did turn up,” Divyesh Patadiya, a Rajkot-based jeweller, said.
At Patadiya’s Harikrishana Jewellers showroom most were his regular customers on Friday. “A majority of our customers today were those who had booked their jewellery in advance and took its delivery today. They called us to enquire what would be the best time to collect and, therefore, we were able to allot different time slots to them and stagger the inflow,” Patadiya, who is also president of Gems and Jewellery Association, Rajkot, said.
In a departure from previous years, fewer family members accompanied customers to the showrooms to purchase jewellery, he said. “Those who visited our showroom today to book or purchase ready-made jewellery, took an average of 20 minutes, as against around an hour, to finalise their jewellery,” Patadiya added.
A similar trend was seen in Surat, too. Tushar Choksi, owner of three jewellery showrooms in Surat, said, “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic this year, we had already anticipated a lower footfall. But customers began coming in from Thursday evening and continued till Friday. We kept our shops open till late on Thursday night, and will do so today as well.”
A former president of Surat Jewellery Association, Choksi said people have cut their budget for purchasing gold and silver jewellery this year. “Earlier, we use to get prior bookings from the customers, but this year it was missing. We can say that this year the sales had gone down up to 45 per cent to 50 per cent.”
State director of Indian Bullion Jewellers Association, Nainesh Pachhigar, said they had to shift focus to light-weight jewellery instead of traditional heavy pieces of jewellery.
“This year more people are opting for light-weight jewellery like pendants, necklaces, gold and silver coins, earrings and nose pins. Even the sale of diamond-studded jewellery items has also gone down. We have not been getting sufficient orders or the upcoming marriage season as well,” he said.
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