Imports could be less by 25 per cent from last year’s Akshay Tritiya, when 75 tonnes of gold had entered India through the official route. Bankers and bullion dealers said that imports have slowed down as market sentiment remains muted for the yellow metal. Gold was trading at Rs 30,735 per 10 gm in Mumbai’s Zaveri Bazar on Monday.
Talking to ET, Sekhar Bhandari, business head for global transaction (banking and precious metals), said: “We are seeing a slowdown in imports. It is not a normal trend generally ahead of Akshay Tritiya when Indians prefer to buy gold. Sentiment seems to be guarded.”
Analysts and bankers don’t expect gold prices to shoot up in the near future. They feel that easing of tensions between North Korea and the US over denuclearisation, Donald Trump’s prediction last Sunday that China would take down its trade barriers, and Fed chairman Jeremy Powell indicating that Fed is likely to raise the US interest rates to keep inflation under control are some of the reasons that will keep a check on gold prices.
“Sales of gold jewellery at the retail end dropped by 20-25 per cent in the January to March quarter compared with the previous quarter. Post the Rs 13,700-crore Nirav Modi scam, the customer has lost confidence in gems and jewellery, which has impacted sales. We are running a campaign to win back buyers’ confidence which may boost Akshay Tritiya sales,” said Surendra Mehta, national secretary of India Bullion & Jewellers Association.
Haresh Acharya, secretary, Bullion Federation, said gold imports have been affected because “banks have cut down on the gold loan limit, post the Nirav Modi incident”.
However, even though the import of gold is yet to pick up, jewellers such as Aditya Pethe, director, WHP Jewellers, said, “We are anticipating a good demand this Akshay Tritiya with an expected increase of 15-20 per cent in sales this year.”
“The month of March has been slow overall. Due to the Nirav Modi Incident, we have seen a shift in trend where consumers have started opting for gold over diamonds as they are sceptical. One more shift that we have noticed is that they want to only shop with family jewellers who have been in the market since ages instead of going to the newly emerged brands,” said Tanya Rastogi, director, Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers.