Gold dazzled on the day of the Akshaya Tritiya, considered auspicious for buying the precious metal, as established jewellers cashed in on the absence of Covid curbs for the first time in three years.
However, the gains were limited on Tuesday for unorganised players, who have been conceding their market share to larger players in recent years, as the jewellery trade increasingly becomes more formalised.
Some established jewellers saw sales until Tuesday evening beating initial expectations, prompting them to project 20-30% jump from the pre-pandemic (on the day of the festival in 2019) level. Given the scorching summer, they expected sales to continue late into the night. Small stores in Delhi’s Karol Bagh and parts of Mumbai, however, expected sales growth to range between 5% and 10%.
Vaibhav Saraf, director at UP-based Aisshpra Gems & Jewels said: “Consumer footfall has exceeded our expectations at least by five times, and we witnessed a crowd of 400 to 500 people in the store at any given hour the whole day.”
Kalyan Jewellers executive director Ramesh Kalyanaraman expected a surge in sales: “After two years of lockdown or partial lockdown, this year 100% of our showrooms are operational. Offline purchases still account for a significant majority of sales for the jewellery industry, and we expect robust customer footfall across our showrooms.”
The gold buying picked up pace even though prices have remained relatively elevated, despite easing recently. Domestic gold prices inched up in February in response to geo-political tension and generally continued the upward movement in March before falling from late April. MCX spot gold prices in Ahmedabad hit this year’s peak of Rs 54,062 per 10 grams on March 9 before easing to Rs 51,050 on April 28. On Tuesday, the price stood at Rs 51,119 per ten grams, still up 7.5% from the Akshaya Tritiya day of 2021 (May 14). While gold demand in the March quarter remained subdued partly due to high prices, the persistence of high inflation (retail inflation exceeded 6% for a third straight month and hit 6.95%, a 17-month peak, in March) and the expectation of elevated price pressure are now prompting many people to buy gold, considered a hedge against inflation, analysts said.
Aditya Pethe, director at Mumbai-headquartered WHP Jewellers, said, “Customers are buying all kinds of jewellery, including gold, diamond and silver, and coins as well. We feel that this year’s sales will be very robust by the time we draw to a close (at late night), so we are anticipating a 25-30% rise vis-a-vis pre-pandemic level.”
Vaibhav Saraf, Aisshpra, director at Uttar Pradesh-based Aisshpra Gems & Jewels, said: “Given the upcoming wedding season and relatively stable prices (even at high levels), we are expecting good footfall and sales across our stores in Uttar Pradesh. We are expecting a 20% rise in sales, and overall 20-25% rise in sales in the coming months.”
Shrey Mehta, director at Delhi-based Pooja Diamonds, “This year we are witnessing a much heavier footfall for brides. When compared with 2019 Akshaya Tritiya, this year we have already seen a 100% growth in footfall.” Reema Pahuja, director at Mumbai-based Tikamdas Motiram Jewellers, said her stores have already witnessed a 60% more footfall from the pre-pandemic level.