With the pandemic entering into the next phase in India, jewellery stores in Karnataka, like all other businesses in the state are gradually opening and letting in their valuable clients.
“We re-opened our store on May 5. On the first day the footfall was slow, but the next day onwards it was good,” informs Subhas Kamath, Abharan Jewellers, Udupi. Many jewellers who had announced ‘price-locking offers’ for Akshay Tritiya on their digital platforms, or through other advertising channels are seeing crowds trickling in to redeem these offers.
Different parts of the Garden City, however witnessed different buying patterns. For some the footfall was quite low. According to Vicky Badera, Panchkesari Badera Jewellers, “People who are coming have some function in the family or have an urgent requirement are the only ones who are coming forward to buy jewellery. Jewellery is not an essential commodity, so business is slow. We expected this to happen.”
For jewellery store owners, safety of customers and staff takes precedence over business. Stores are strictly adhering to all government norms like having sanitisers, allowing only 25 people inside the store at a time and allowing for social distancing. Says Prasad from Creations Jewellery, Bengaluru, “We have taken all the precautions, and all the prescribed SOPs in place.”
While there is some demand for jewellery, supply of finished products is less. Most jewellers across the city get their inventory from bigger cities like Mumbai.
“We get nearly 70 per cent of our finished goods from Mumbai, so unless Mumbai market opens, we cannot actually function smoothly. Many orders are pending with our manufacturers in Mumbai,” informs Badera.
It is when courier services and allied services like repairs and alterations of finished products are in place, the gems and jewellery business all over Bengaluru can really come back to normal.
One of the many factors which is preventing customers to flock jewellery retail stores is high gold price. “Too much fluctuation of gold price can be a put off,” explains Ravi Kumar from Surya Jewels. If a customer wanted to buy say 100 gm of gold, s/he is buying just 60 gm so, as the prices are high, budgets seem to have reduced by about 40 percent. “Enquiries for bridal jewellery are there. All the same, demand is slow,” informs Gurmukh Singh (Ram), CEO Neelkanth Jewellers. People who are coming in are buying some essential jewellery. “Demand for heavy jewellery is yet to pick up,” informs Singh.
Recurring overheads have to be paid, despite the fact that business is on an all-time low. “We have paid all our staff salaries, and other overheads, however regular business income is still awaited,” informs Badera.
As most karigars in these stores are local and those who are from Bengal, too, had decided to stay back. “We did not face any difficulty in completing our orders, as we source most of the goods locally,” explains Pratap Kamath of Abaran Jewellers.
The gems and jewellery industry in Karnataka, has two major concerns – one is that in order to ensure smooth supply of fine jewellery, manufacturers in Mumbai need to open and secondly, ensuring regular cash flow.
All the same, “It is heartening to note that the gems and jewellery industry will surely make a comeback. Also, there has been no one who has come forward to sell gold,” beams Pratap Kamath.