Consumer demand for gold was tepid due to high prices on Akshaya Tritiya, one of the most auspicious days in the Hindu calendar to buy precious metal and jewelry. Sales improved by value from 2011, but declined in terms of volume.
“The gold prices have risen by over 30 percent in the past one year,” said Bachhraj Bamalwa, the chairman of All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF). “Overall the enthusiasm which should have been there, it wasn’t there this time.”
Gold prices in India, the world’s largest consumer, are now quoting above $557 (INR 29,000) per 10 grams, up from around $423 (INR 22,000) a year ago.
Bamalwa noted that usually consumers start booking jewelry purchases one week before Akshaya Tritiya, but that trend wasn’t apparent this year.
“Overall the sales have risen by about 10 to 15 percent in value terms but volume wise sales have not increased,” he said.
Mahavir Lodha, the chief executive for Mumbai Wholesale Gold Jewellers Association, said that sales were good and there was good demand for coins and jewelry. He added that jewelry retailers also extended their shop closing timings in Zaveri Bazar—traditionally focal point for the city’s jewelry trade.
“Akshaya Tritiya wasn’t very happening for a diamond jeweler like me. There were couple of customers who did some booking, but it was just a normal day for me,” said Vinit Parekh, a partner at Jewel Melange. “Akshaya Tritiya is more of a gold business. People are more interested in buying gold coins for that auspicious moment.”
Rakesh Jain of Mohanlal Otarmal Jewellers said that sales were not very extraordinary but there was consistent demand.
Industry officials said that jewelers were also wary of stocking new inventory due to excise duty issue with the government.