All is shining, but not all that bright in this beautiful coastal State. Despite numbers of Coronavirus victims being under control, gems and jewellery business hasn’t booked profits. “It has been nearly a month that our store has reopened post lockdown, but business is less – about 30 per cent of pre-Covid days,” explains Abdul Karim, Kiora Amorez.
Masses face brunt of economic slowdown
People are wary of stepping out of their houses. Jewellery stores have a decent stock of inventory, which they had stocked up during January and February, just before the nation-wide lockdown was announced in March.
All of that stock is unsold. So many stores will remain unaffected by despite lack of supply from Mumbai, Jaipur and other parts of the country. Barring the supply of fresh stock, stores are facing problems of every other sort. “Banks have given a moratorium of three months, at the end of which we will have to repay all three EMIs along with interest. What is the purpose of the moratorium? How does it benefit business owners?” questions P P Benzeer, Dubai Gold and Diamonds.
Online business is holding onto the sheen
During lockdown, online orders were on the rise. But in families where weddings are scheduled, bridal jewellery is bought only after visiting the store in person. Most clients are calling up stores and enquiring whether stores have opened, only then they come. “Despite increase in gold price, people are buying. We do exchange jewellery, manufactured by us,” informs P P Sunny, Sunny Diamonds.
Online business is good only during post lockdown phase, during lockdown, logistical difficulties had brought even online sale down to zero.
Industry looks at a new normal
As per recent reports, there could be a relapse of Covid19. Whether there is a relapse or not, a new normal is being set because of the pandemic. New product development has stalled, marketing and advertising revenues have been curbed. “At least 500 people are working for us for the last 15 years and at least 100 people have been working with us for the last 30 years. Their wellbeing is my biggest concern,” informs Rajesh Kalyanraman, Kalyan Jewellers.
Most people are deterred because of increase in gold price. Small ticket items, like kids’ jewellery is being bought. “Families where weddings are scheduled are buying light weight bridal jewellery. The situation has to improve. We are waiting for business to resume, as before,” informs P P Benzeer, Dubai Gold and Diamonds.
Liquidity crunch is here to haunt
Today, many jewellers are facing liquidity crunch. Major sales has come to a standstill. “We have to pay heavy overheads – without sales, I don’t know how we will pay all these overheads,” laments Benzeer. If banks provide EMIs on purchase of jewellery, business will get an impetus. Currently, no banks are allowing customers to buy jewellery on EMIs. With accurate documentation and certification along with registration of purchase of gems and jewellery, banks may be able to find a way to provide EMI facility to its esteemed customers for purchase of jewellery. This will give the business a major boost.
G & J sector is one of the highest grossing sectors in India
Today, over 20 lakh people across India are earning a livelihood solely based on the gems and jewellery sector. It is the one of highest taxing paying industries as well. “In such a case, government needs to help the industry by making certain monetary discounts available to small and medium sector jewellers,” opines Arun Naik, spokesman, AKGSMA. Survival of these jewellers is currently at stake, and with barely any sales, they are finding it difficult to pay their regular overheads.
“If government bans Chinese goods totally, including import of gems and jewellery from China, it will give Indian jewellery manufacturing segment a major impetus.” explains Naik.
Today, it’s a wait and watch scene for almost all jewellers across Kerala. They all are holding on to their inherent optimism and together battling the economic downturn with immense courage.