Akshaya Tritiya jewellery sales hit in rural India

KOLKATA: Urban India saw an estimated 10-15 per cent increase in jewellery sales on Wednesday on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, when Hindus consider it auspicious to buy gold, while rural areas reported a 20-25 per cent decline compared to that a year ago.

Traders said that 8 per cent higher gold prices this year coupled with a shortage of cash in parts of the country hit sales in rural areas. Currency shortage has been reported from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat, among other states.

Southern India, where stores opened earlier in the morning than they usually do, in anticipation of the gold rush, clocked the highest growth in demand on Akshaya Tritiya this year.

“Our sales grew more than 25 per cent,” said TS Kalyanaraman, chairman, Kalyan Jewellers. “The price of gold does not seem to have dampened the spirit of the auspicious occasion. The positive triggers including better consumer sentiment and shift to the organised sector helped.”

Ahammed MP, chairman of Malabar Gold & Diamonds said that although the company was still collating sales data from its stores located in metros as well as smaller cities, the trend was positive, with lightweight jewellery emerging as the fastest moving product category.

“Northern and eastern parts of India witnessed a slow start as hot weather was holding up customers,” said Surendra Mehta, national secretary, India Bullion & Jewellers Association (IBJA). “Western India witnessed a 20 per cent increase in demand while sales went up 10 per cent in northern India. Jewellers in southern India received overwhelming response.”

But traders in rural areas did not get to join the cheer. Madan Prakash Verma, president of Bihar Sharif Sarafa Association said, “Currency shortage brought down Akshaya Tritiya sales by 25-30 per cent. The market sentiment is not at all upbeat.”