Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: Gudi Padwa, the traditional new year for Maharashtrians, is a day when shoppers throng the jewelry stores to purchase ornaments. But with retail activity put to a halt in Maharashtra, jewelers are losing hope of shining sales that mark these festive days. With industry reports citing a stricter lockdown in the days to come, there is fear of a higher percentage of cancellations of made-to-order items that are now lying in the showrooms.
“Many people place their orders months in advance so they can get delivery on the auspicious days of Gudi Padwa. The number of walk-ins is also huge and jewelers plan in advance and stock up inventory for these days, but with showrooms closed, hardly any sales are happening,” Ashish Pethe, Chairman of industry body The All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC) who runs 23 jewelry showrooms across Maharashtra told Financial Express Online. He said online sales on their website are continuing but it is marginal, not more than 15 per cent.
He said while customers are calling, they are unable to do much other than directing them to their website. “This year the lockdown has happened just on the face of Gudi Padwa so we haven’t had the time to put all our inventory online and prepare for the new reality,” he added.
Industry body GJC estimates that auspicious days of Gudhi Padwa and Akshaya Tritiya together constitute almost 30- 40 per cent of the annual sales for jewelers.
Nitin Khandelwal, Promoter of Akola-based Khandelwal Jewellers said that while showrooms are shut they have been able to get permission to deliver the made-to-order jewelry to customer’s homes directly. He added that they are also using Whatsapp to get people to place orders online. “While sales are less and can’t be compared to normal times, people are buying today to leverage the decline in gold prices,” he said.
“The shop has been operating in losses yet we are continuing to pay salaries to 110 people employed with us. Gems and jewelry has been recognised by the government as one of the stressed sectors and many more allowances and concessions are required to keep our business and the sector overall afloat,” said Khandelwal who runs three jewelry showrooms. He is also the Chairperson of the Vidarbha Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Akola.
Mumbai-based jewelry wholesaler Saiyam Mehra said that while they had enough demand earlier but the lockdown has changed the business dynamics. He said new orders are not coming in despite the festival and cancelations of placed orders is also as high as 30 per cent. “If lockdown continues the cancellations can go up to 70 per cent from Maharashtra region itself. Jewelry buying is occasion centric and if consumers are unable to wear it for the specific day, many chose to cancel the order,” he said. Mehra’s firm Unique Chains employs around 2,000 karigars. He added that almost 30 per cent karigars have already returned to their home towns in West Bengal and many more are planning fearing the stricter lockdown in the days to come. “If they go, then it would be very difficult to get them back and the entire supply chain will further get disrupted,” he said.
Last week, GJC, which represents over 6,00,000 players related to the sector, had written to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray to allow jewelers to operate on the festive days in the month of April and the upcoming wedding season.