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Will Akshaya Tritiya bring prosperity to jewellers?

Retail Jeweller India

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Already having missed out on Hindu calendar new year sales during the spring harvest time due to abrupt lockdown, jewellers across the country are pulling out all the stops to make gold shopping, on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya on 26th of April, convenient from the confines of home.

The inventories were prepped up, the stores were decked up and the jewellers were full of hope to make the most of the harvest season and new year sales but the lockdown played the spoiler. With that, the jewellers missed out on one of the biggest sales day of the year. Now, out of the ‘frying pan’ of economic slowdown, they stepped into the ‘fire’ of cataclysmic lockdown. The jewellers therefore are going all out and about for the oncoming Akshaya Tritiya on 26th of April, which is also the second-biggest gold buying occasion after Diwali in India.

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

Necessity is the mother of invention – this proverb perfectly defines today’s scenario. While the stores are shut, the jewellers are devising newer ways to sell gold on the auspicious day and one medium that is helping them is online. The retailers have spruced up their digital sales initiatives to secure some portion of the lost opportunity this Akshaya Tritiya.

Even if the lockdown is over there would be people hesitant to actually step out. Social distancing will continue for some more months, if not years. Hence, Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers are running a campaign where customers can make bookings on phone, through calling and online. “This Akshaya Tritiya, we are streamlining our process where people can book gold from the comfort of their home during lockdown and can always take deliveries when they can come to the store,” reveals Tanya Rastogi, Director, Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers, Lucknow.

Tanishq, a subsidiary of the Tata Group, too is celebrating e Akshaya Tritiya, this year about which Ajoy Chawla, CEO, jewellery division (Tanishq) at Titan Company Limited, shares that 54 per cent of their regular Akshaya Tritiya buyers have expressed their interest to pursue the tradition of bringing gold as a harbinger of good times. “So, we have decided to offer our products through our e-commerce platform. Required infrastructure has been created to make online shopping a smooth affair for customers and delivery will only happen when the government allows movement of non-essential items,” he informs.

This is for the first time in decades that the industry is in a state of lockdown during the Akshaya Tritiya period and the jewellers who have developed a regular set of clientele for Akshaya Tritiya purchases are still receiving enquiries.

As Akshaya Tritiya approached, Aditya Pethe, Director of WHP Jewellers, says that he was warmly surprised by the number of enquires they received for pre-bookings and thus, started taking Akshaya Tritiya bookings from 21st April onwards on their e-commerce platforms.

“The same will be delivered to the customers post lockdown. We can’t do a sales speculation due to the exceptional circumstances we are in but we look forward to an online Akshaya Tritiya this year,” says Aditya Pethe.

A String of Attractive Offers

Even Kalyan Jewellers’ social media channels and customer relationship managers, are working overtime answering queries about purchasing gold on the auspicious day. “This has prompted us to come up with a solution, to best serve our customers’ needs. While we know that our temporary solution of ‘Gold Ownership Certificate’ is no match for the real thing, we are happy that we will be able to keep the tradition going,” shares CMD TS Kalyanaraman.

Equally busy are Aisshpra Gems & Jewels’ toll-free numbers and social handles where the enquiry was majorly for fixing gold rates. “Keeping this in mind we are bringing out a pre-booking offer for gold jewellery where the customer can fix gold rates for future delivery and get a discount of Rs. 1000/10g on gold rates also. Based on the current scenario and calls received we are sure that the scheme will generate good business for us,” fills in Vaibhav Saraf, Director of Aisshpra Gems & Jewels, Gorakhpur.

Pune-based PNG jewellers too has launched Vedhani E – Vouchers (available in 1, 2, 5 & 10 grams of bullion only) and the ‘Pure Price offer’ on their online store. “Customers across India and the world over have supported us for more than 187 years now and these offers are launched to thank all our patrons. Also, it is our way of telling them that we are here to serve them and facilitate gold buying on Akshaya Tritiya while ensuring their interests are fully protected. We continue to urge people to not step out of their homes, continue to be safe, healthy and indoors during this difficult period,” urges Saurabh Gadgil, CMD, PNG Jewellers.

In the current pandemic situation, AVR Swarn Mahal makes sure that the essence of Akshaya Tritiya is not lost. “We have introduced ‘Lock Your Gold Price’ offer. As per the offer, buyers can freeze the price of gold online with two options i.e. purchase a gold coin or jewellery with additional benefits,” shares AVR Siddhanth, Director of AVR Swarn Mahal.

Only time will tell if the customer bites the bait and these schemes lead to some conversions but for now, let’s take a stock of the ground reality.

Dwindling Hope on Auspicious Days

The Credit Rating Agency (ICRA) has stated that the recent developments around COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown ahead of the critical Akshaya Tritiya season are a credit negative for gold jewellery retail industry over the near-term. “As the stores are currently non-operational and recovery in demand is likely to be slow and gradual given that jewellery is a non-essential product and consumers typically defer their discretionary spends, jewellery retailers shall witness sharp moderation in footfalls over the next few months. Especially, sales during Akshaya Tritiya, which falls in the last week of April 2020, shall witness considerable impact,” explains K Srikumar, Vice President, ICRA.

Even the World Gold Council (WGC) anticipates that this summer season starting with Gudi Padwa and Akshaya Tritiya to be subdued. PR Somasundaram, MD, India, WGC, predicts that things might ease in the late September quarter and jewellers may see a rebound in the December quarter during Diwali. “However, one thing appears imminent: recycling of gold and loans against gold jewellery will jump significantly once the markets open up,” he adds.

On this day alone the industry makes almost 15 days of sale and last year, it had recorded sales of 36 tonnes of gold valued at Rs. 17,000 crore. But this year the sales are expected to decline sharply and therefore is being looked upon as a lost opportunity by many due to the nationwide lockdown.

According to Anantha Padmanabhan, Chairman, All India Gems and Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC), the industry missed major business that happens in the marriage season that coincided with the lockdown. “Stocks are lying unsold in closed showrooms. There may be some token booking for gold by individuals for amounts like Rs 5,000 or so but no big investments in gold will be made as all the shops are closed. The drop in demand will be around 94 per cent. To prevent complete erosion of business, jewellers have come up with some attractive offers and innovative schemes so as to retain their customer base as well as to have some money in hand to pay salaries to their workforce,” he added.

High Gold Rate Plays a Spoilsport

The sharp increase in gold prices has also deterred investors around this time. Last year on Akshaya Tritiya gold was Rs. 31,500 per 10 gram and today it has jumped to around Rs. 47,000 per gram, an increase of about 49 per cent. And in this lockdown situation where liquidity crunch is felt so making big investments in gold would be rare instance.

“No one will be ready to buy gold at such a high price amidst this uncertainty and lockdown. Only the high net worth individuals will go for gold now. The drop in demand will be 92 per cent this Akshaya Tritiya,” clarifies Surendra Mehta, National Secretary, India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA).

Tanya Rastogi too blames the gold prices to a certain extent for the low sentiments. “The way gold prices have been of late, it is only within the reach of privilege class. Definitely, when the rates are high, people are reluctant to make purchases and therefore, the sales have been low. Even if someone will shop for weddings now, there would be only needful shopping and not extravagant like normally people do,” she explains.

Jaan bhi, jahan bhi – indeed!

In line with PM Modi’s new slogan – jaan bhi, jahan bhi, there are few jewellers who are striking a fine balance between profiteering and serving the needy.Just like others, IRASVA too is brimming with offers – flat 20 per cent off across all collections, exclusive gift vouchers that offers flat 20 per cent off on the total bill value upon redemption…. But it is the noble standpoint of the brand that makes its offers all the more attractive. “In light of the current global crisis, IRASVA will donate a percentage of all its sale proceeds to the PM cares fund towards the combat and relief efforts against the Covid-19 pandemic,” shares Leshna Shah, Founder & Creative head of IRASVA.

The Malabar Group has also pledged support to the Corona warriors through its campaign. “We have already made a #PromiseToProtect campaign for those who are putting their lives at risk for us with all the help they need,” says Ahammed MP, Chairman, Malabar Group.

On a similar vein, Senco Gold and Diamonds rolls out ‘Price Protection Guarantee’ scheme for its customers this Akshaya Tritiya and commits to donate part of the proceeds for the COVID-19 relief fund.  “Our discerning customers not only have a chance to avail of substantial discounts on gold rates and waivers on making charges but also an opportunity to contribute to the COVID-19 relief fund through their purchases,” concludes Suvankar Sen, Executive Director, Senco Gold and Diamonds.

At a time when consumers are watchful of brands’ actions and how they remain committed to their people and communities, such efforts will surely build stronger goodwill for brands that show purpose and action.

Some jewellers have decided to refrain from any commerce at this crisis time and Ahmedabad-based KK Jewels is one of them. “We want the country to first come out of this situation. Trade and business can wait till then. People’s lives are at stake, it is hard to think of business now. To our customers, we have already said that this year please perform puja with your existing gold. Once we are out of this, we are here to serve you,” assures Kailash Kabra, Director, KK Jewels.

Akshaya Tritiya is believed to be the harbinger of good luck and prosperity and jewellers across the nation are now waiting with baited breath to see how much of it comes their way.

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