Courtesy: Harsahaimal Shiamlal Jewellers, Bareilly & Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest State has a lion’s share in determining the fate of the gems and jewellery industry post lockdown.
The New Normal in this State is here to stay and interestingly, each tale in the major cities of this hinterland is different. Stores in Lucknow, Kanpur, Bareilly, Gorakhpur, Azamgarh, Balia, Pradrauna, et al opened about four weeks back and since then have witnessed good business.
Business is 50 - 60 per cent of normal
“Footfall is very good. We are struggling to maintain social distancing and we have to place chairs in the parking area, for people to wait. We are operating at 50 per cent capacity,” informs Vaibhav Saraf, Aisshpra Gems and Jewels, UP. Aisshpra Gems and Jewels are located across Eastern UP with two stores in Gorakhpur and one store each in: Deoria, Ballia, Padrauna, Basti, Lucknow and Azamgarh. People across the state are buying jewellery, regardless of the rising gold prices.
Almost all jewellery purchase is need-based, very few people are going in for casual purchases. Small ticket items have been bought infrequently over online buying platforms.
Many people across the state prefer offline purchase, despite the threat of the Coronavirus. “Common people do not seem to have any fear. The risk for us has increased. As customers wear masks, the security concerns are higher,” adds Saraf.
The threat of the Coronavirus will take a long time to be eradicated totally. There is a new normal which is being set. Most retailers encourage plastic money. But in rural areas many people bring cash. Almost all buyers are buying for personal consumption. They are aware that gold is a good investment and they are getting value for money.
Higher gold price is not a deterrent
Statistically, it has been observed that volume of gold purchases have increased despite increase in gold price. The charm of gold does not fade -- people are unsure of other investments, whereas they know gold offers them a safer investment option. So buying gold is never a loss. “Buyers are adjusting to increasing gold prices, people are aware of the fact that prices will increase in future and therefore continue to buy gold,” opines Peeyush Prakash, Alankar Jewelarts, Pvt Ltd, Meerut, UP.
“As a result of the pandemic, weddings are happening on smaller scale so the money saved is being invested in buying jewellery, which is currently the best investment,” says Ankur Anand, Harsahaimal Shiamlal Jewellers, Bareilly.
Big cities, bigger problems
People in urban areas, where density of population is higher, makes people wary of stepping out, and walking in to stores. “Only genuine buyers are coming in to the stores. Necessity-based buying is taking place. Rate of purchase is quite high, casual purchases are few,” informs Raghava Rastogi, Jugal Kishore Jewellers, Lucknow. Many people are buying bridal gold jewellery.
Walk-in customers are buying gold coins and jewellery. People aren’t looking at weight so much, they buy as per their preference. Most store owners were aware of their clients’ needs so they had prepared their inventory accordingly. “We had prepared the inventory, in anticipation of demand, in during lockdown itself. We have a good stock of bridal jewellery and so people are finding it easy to choose what they want and go in for purchase immediately, so there isn’t much handling of jewellery,” informs Samit Rastogi, Lala Purushottam Das Jewellers, Lucknow, UP.
Labour shortage is a concern
“Many of our karigars have gone back to their native places, and do not show any sign of returning despite the fact that markets in Meerut are opening. This is a major cause of worry, because the existing inventory will last only for a month or two. Thereafter we will need fresh stock. I don’t know how we will manage,” feels Vivek Shekhar, Manohar Lal Sarraf & Sons Jewellers, Meerut.
Many workers, are pressurised by their families into staying back in their villages. So when the current stock in many of these stores runs out, unless fresh stock is ready, business cannot take place.
Quite a few jewellers across the State are concerned about their karigars. Barring this major concern they are coming to terms with new SOPs and the new normal set by the ongoing pandemic. Amdist health concerns, business across the State is picking up steadily and despite earlier anticipations not many people came to sell old jewellery, unlike those in Thailand.
“It goes to prove that Indians do treasure their family gold and hold on to it for as long as they can,” exclaims Peeyush Prakash.