For the jewellery trade, it will be a second year of low sales on the Akshaya Tritiya day, which falls on May 14 this year.
With lockdowns and restrictions across most states due to the surge in Covid-19 cases, jewellers expect very little demand for gold this Akshaya Tritiya, a day believed to be auspicious to purchase the metal.
Last year, demand was 70% less compared with 2019. Jewellers do not expect even online sales to pick up as healthcare is the primary concern now for Indian families.
Talking to ET, Aditya Pethe, director of Mumbai-based WHP Jewellers said: “This is the second year when our stores are shut on this day. We already missed out on Gudi Padwa sales for the second year and now we are missing Akshaya Tritya. For us these are two major days of sales and this is going to be a major blow for the organised retail sector that offers huge employment to skilled and semi-skilled workforce.”
Added Ishu Datwani, founder of Anmol Jewellers: “April is the beginning of the new financial year and we are beginning the year with a lockdown. At this rate most of us will struggle and we sincerely hope that the government chips in with real sops and monetary stimulus for the business community and the common man to help tide over these difficult times.”
“Our experience of last year shows that not much sales happen online, so even this year (we are) not expecting anything substantial,” Datwani said.
Last year, Akshaya Tritiya was on April 26, when the country was going through the nationwide lockdown.
In the April-June quarter of 2020, gold demand had dropped to 63.7 tonnes from 213.2 tonnes a year earlier. This year, the trade feels, it would be even lower.
“Many big jewellers are encouraging digital marketing of gold. We are actively engaged in digital sales. The sales had picked up in the first quarter (January-March) of 2021 as many weddings that were earlier postponed were conducted. However, we feel that the current situation in the country will impact the sales,” said Ahammed MP, chairman of Malabar Gold & Diamonds.
Jewellers said retailers, not just jewellers, were not given any respite on loans, rents or taxes.
“While the government is doing its best to help fight Covid-19, it should also do something to protect the livelihood of the people in the retail industry. We do hope that the government speeds up the vaccination process and gives some relaxations to the business community so that we can support our people in these testing times as well,” Pethe of WHP Jewellers said.