Akshaya Tri­tiya Evokes Mixed Re­sponse

Solitaire - - INDUSTRY INSIGHT -

One of the most aus­pi­cious days to pur­chase gold as per the Hindu ca­lan­dar, Akshaya Tri­tiya turned out to be a mixed bag for jewellers across the coun­try. While some re­port­edly su­per­seded their past sales oth­ers in­di­cated a flat­tish de­mand for jew­ellery and a dis­tinct drop in bul­lion sales. Shanoo Bi­jlani and Aliya Lad­hab­hoy re­port.

The much-awaited fes­ti­val for jewellers, Akshaya Tri­tiya this year, cel­e­brated on May 2 did not glit­ter as much as it usu­ally does. A com­bi­na­tion of sev­eral fac­tors – high du­ties, gold curbs and elec­tion reg­u­la­tions played spoil sport. Con­sumers adopted a ‘wait-and-watch’ re­sponse, putting off pur­chases in the hope of a bet­ter far­ing econ­omy post elec­tions.

In a re­cent re­port by World Gold Coun­cil, jew­ellery de­mand in the first quar­ter of 2014 re­ported a 3% rise in vol­ume terms as com­pared to the first quar­ter of 2013. Un­for­tu­nately, higher im­port du­ties and sup­ply curbs im­posed by the In­dian gov­ern­ment re­sulted in a 9% de­cline in de­mand for gold jew­ellery and a 54% drop in de­mand for bul­lion in the coun­try.

As the oc­ca­sion is con­sid­ered to be an aus­pi­cious day to pur­chase gold, con­sumers in­dulged in to­ken pur­chases as well as bought manda­tory bridal sets for im­pend­ing weddings. Anil Tal­war, owner of Tal­war­sons in Chandi­garh, and cochair­man of FICCI’s gems and jew­ellery com­mit­tee re­marked that sales on Akshaya Tri­tiya were lower than last year’s.

Tal­war noted, “Al­though this fes­ti­val, known for driv­ing jew­ellery sales, is very pop­u­lar in the South and West of In­dia, it has be­come pop­u­lar in the north­ern In­dia in re­cent years. For the last four or five years now, we reg­is­tered max­i­mum sales as com­pared to any other day of the year. But this year was quite dis­heart­en­ing and sales were about 28% lower than last year, and 41% down from the year be­fore last.” Tal­war also in­formed that peo­ple did buy smaller and lighter items priced from R15,000 to R20,000, to mark the aus­pi­cious­ness of this day.

Elec­tion rules, im­pos­ing a cap on cash one could carry on per­son, also marred sales. “This is the first time I have seen that the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion was ran­domly check­ing peo­ple. The level of strict­ness was very high. This also af­fected busi­ness to some ex­tent,” said Tal­war.

At Abaran, sales fig­ures dropped 1015% in­formed Pratap Ka­math, man­ag­ing direc­tor, Abaran Jewellers, Ban­ga­lore. Con­sumers, how­ever, pre­ferred a good mix of both light­weight and bridal jew­ellery be­cause of the on­go­ing wed­ding sea­son. “We sold more of tra­di­tional jew­ellery this sea­son, and the av­er­age ticket price was be­low R100,000. Bul­lion sales took a big hit and amounted to only 10% of all our sales this time,” Ka­math noted, adding, “The pri­mary rea­son for the drop in gold coin sales is the weak in­vestor sen­ti­ment.”

De­spite the bleak sce­nario, a few jewellers man­aged to do well. “We were con­cerned given that the month of April was slow on ac­count of the elec­tions but

for­tu­nately we saw a 25% in­crease in sales this Akshaya Tri­tiya,” said Vikram Raizada, CEO of Tara Jewellers, who added that the av­er­age ticket size was ap­prox­i­mately

R50,000 across their stores. “To mark this favourable day, we in­tro­duced a spe­cial of­fer on mak­ing charges of R299 per gram on gold jew­ellery and up to 25% off on di­a­mond jew­ellery. Our walk-in cus­tomers were also sur­prised with many other ex­cit­ing bumper prizes at the store.”

Colin Shah, founder and man­ag­ing direc­tor of Kama Jew­ellery, be­lieves that Akshaya Tri­tiya is one of the golden sea­sons for jewellers across the coun­try. Pur­chas­ing gold or jew­ellery on Akshaya Tri­tiya is an age-old sen­ti­ment. It is be­lieved that this day marks a new be­gin­ning and brings in pros­per­ity and wealth for the whole year, Shah said. “The ris­ing in­fla­tion may have slightly af­fected the size of the pur­chase, but not the ac­tual pur­chase. The mar­ket is im­prov­ing slightly and so is the con­sumer con­fi­dence,” said Shah, whose com­pany recorded a 20% to 25% in­crease in sales both on­line and off­line.

Po­p­ley Eter­nal’s new gold col­lec­tion, launched a few days be­fore the oc­ca­sion, re­ceived a good re­sponse. “Busi­ness this Akshaya Tri­tiya was bet­ter than last year. We re­ceived pos­i­tive feed­back from our cus­tomers who picked up light­weight as well as bridal jew­ellery through pre-booked or­ders as well as on-the-spot pur­chases,” in­formed Su­raj Po­p­ley, man­ag­ing direc­tor, Po­p­ley Eter­nal.

At Manub­hai Jewellers, too, the sen­ti­ment for gold buy­ing was up­beat. “The oc­ca­sion fell just af­ter May 1, which be­ing a hol­i­day, brought many more cus­tomers to the store. Foot­falls this year were above av­er­age and we ob­served a healthy 15% jump in sales of gold jew­ellery,” said Samir Sa­gar, direc­tor, Manub­hai Jewellers.

“This year the mar­ket has shown an op­ti­mistic de­mand for gold de­spite all

the ups and downs the in­dus­try has gone through, re­sult­ing in pos­i­tive sales growth for the firm,” said Sau­rabh Gadgil of PN Gadgil Jewellers, Mum­bai, who added that last year the Lo­cal Body Tax strike had forced them to keep their shut­ters down on the aus­pi­cious oc­ca­sion.

Mal­abar Gold and Di­a­monds, Cali­cut, in­formed that gold jew­ellery sales in­creased by 10%, and di­a­mond jew­ellery sales were up 25% year-on-year. “We saw a 100% in­crease in pre­cious gem jew­ellery sales as com­pared to last year. Most of the cus­tomers pur­chased light­weight or­na­ments in both tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary cat­e­gories,” he said, adding, “Gold coin sales dropped in com­par­i­son to last year on ac­count of gov­ern­ment poli­cies.” What drove their sales were the pro­mo­tional of­fers start­ing from the third week of April. The re­tail house of­fered 25% off on mak­ing charges of gold jew­ellery and 50% off on mak­ing charges of di­a­mond jew­ellery, and free sil­ver was given on ad­vance book­ing on Akshaya Tri­tiya of­fer.

Blue­stone.com saw a phe­nom­e­nal in­crease in rev­enues on Akshaya Tri­tiya. “We saw an al­most 100% rise in rev­enues for Akshaya Tri­tiya, and 20% of our over­all sales came from re­li­gious pen­dants or spe­cific de­signs that are in­spired from var­ied divine forms. In ad­di­tion, since it was a gold buy­ing oc­ca­sion, this year we saw a slight shift to­wards plain gold as com­pared to studded jew­ellery. This is in con­trast to most off­line re­tailer’s sale pat­terns,” in­formed Gau­rav Singh Kush­waha, CEO, Blue­Stone.com. The on­line ven­ture launched their Eter­nal Gold col­lec­tion en­com­pass­ing pen­dants, ear­rings and rings cus­tom­iz­a­ble in 14-, 18- and 22-karat gold.

For some, Akshaya Tri­tiya was flat – there was no in­crease or de­crease in sales. Hi­man­shu Shekhar of Manohar Lal Sar­raf & Sons com­mented, “This year sale vol­umes were at par with 2013, which in to­day’s sub­dued sce­nario, we con­sider as en­cour­ag­ing. Mid-seg­ment jew­ellery between R2 lakh and R5 lakh over­shad­owed bridal jew­ellery this sea­son, while gold coin sales dropped a whop­ping 80%.”

Vinod Haya­griv, man­ag­ing direc­tor of C. Kr­ish­niah Chetty and Sons (CKC), Ban­ga­lore, too wit­nessed no sales growth. “We saw this hap­pen­ing for the first time in many years, and it shows the mar­ket sen­ti­ment,” said Haya­griv. For the oc­ca­sion, CKC had launched its sec­ond edi­tion of

the highly suc­cess­ful Navay­oni Sri Chakra Yantra and re­ceived an ex­cel­lent re­sponse. “We pro­duced 999 pieces of this nine-metal gold and di­a­mond spe­cial al­loy and we sold all the pieces in about five days, cul­mi­nat­ing on Akshaya Tri­tiya. We did not of­fer any dis­counts, free gifts, and did not en­gage in pro­mo­tions,” in­formed Haya­griv.

Shreyansh Kapoor, vice pres­i­dent of Kashi Jewellers, Kan­pur, com­mented, “Akshaya Tri­tiya sales were de­cent and we met our last year’s tar­gets. It was a good thing that the World Gold Coun­cil had de­clared in ad­vance that the fes­ti­val would be spread over two days – May 1 and 2 – and this gave us am­ple lee­way to boost sales.

“We are a manufacturing com­pany, so we don’t in­cur over­head costs. This ben­e­fit is passed on to con­sumers as well and that is the rea­son why we can af­ford to sell our low-ticket tag col­lec­tion with good qual­ity and fin­ish,” said Kapoor.

Tra­di­tional High

Tra­di­tional and light­weight jew­ellery were on an up­swing this Akshaya Tri­tiya with con­sumers opt­ing for jew­ellery in the mid­price seg­ment. “With the wed­ding sea­son ap­proach­ing, con­sumers did pur­chase bridal jew­ellery, how­ever we also saw a con­sis­tent de­mand for light­weight jew­ellery es­pe­cially in the mid-seg­ment,” in­formed Ishu Dat­wani, owner of An­mol Jewellers, Mum­bai.

An­tique pen­dant sets with kun­dan work as well as light­weight an­tique sets saw much trac­tion this sea­son in­formed Sa­gar of Manub­hai Jewellers. “Pure gold pen­dant sets, small neck­pieces with corals and pearls and pure gold chan­dan haar neck­laces were pop­u­lar pur­chase items.”

Keep­ing with the trend for tra­di­tional jew­ellery, P N Gadgil Jewellers launched its Satyam Shivam Sundaram col­lec­tion, a col­lec­tion in­spired by the beauty of Lord Shiva, a few days be­fore the oc­ca­sion and re­ceived a num­ber of en­quiries and sub­se­quent pur­chases be­ing made for the same.

Amar Ghanas­ingh of Amar Ghanas­ingh Jewellers, Mum­bai, too noted that tra­di­tional mo­tifs and jew­ellery were on top of the charts this time. “We saw a 25% drop in sales this year. Con­sumers made to­ken pur­chases and picked up light­weight jew­ellery. Some did pur­chase heavy sets for the en­su­ing wed­ding sea­son, but they were fewer in num­ber.”

Reema Pahuja, head de­signer and direc­tor of Mum­bai’s Tikam­das Moti­ram Jewellers (TMJ), noted that sales jumped by 15%-20% in value terms this time. “The most pop­u­lar items were light­weight bracelets and chains. Those who had

planned their pur­chases much ear­lier for the wed­ding sea­son pre­ferred to pick ban­gles and heavy neck­lace sets. We saw a good de­mand for bridal jew­ellery as com­pared to last year. We have been notic­ing that younger cus­tomers scout for the de­sired jew­ellery pieces much be­fore the fes­ti­val, and fi­nally make the pur­chase on Akshaya Tri­tiya,” she in­formed.

Di­a­mond Surge

Though typ­i­cally gold is the pre­ferred choice on aus­pi­cious oc­ca­sions, there has been a sig­nif­i­cant rise in the de­mand for di­a­mond jew­ellery. Sachin Jain, pres­i­dent of Forever­mark In­dia, com­mented, “We’re glad to say that Akshaya Tri­tiya was good for Forever­mark. Women are in­creas­ingly buy­ing daily wear di­a­mond jew­ellery and Forever­mark of­fers a fine range of de­signs that ap­peal to this pen­chant.”

Kama Jew­ellery wit­nessed an in­creased de­mand for di­a­mond and plat­inum jew­ellery this year and launched an ex­quis­ite new range of di­a­mond jew­ellery ti­tled the Fleur col­lec­tion which was well-re­ceived by its cus­tomers. In­spired by na­ture, the col­lec­tion is an as­sort­ment of pen­dants, half parures, cock­tail rings and ear­rings. The new Fleur col­lec­tion is mounted in 18-karat white, yel­low and pink gold and em­bel­lished with bril­liant-cut di­a­monds, nat­u­ral pearls and pre­cious coloured stones like emer­alds and ru­bies.

Sid­dharthaa Sawan­sukha, man­ag­ing direc­tor, Sawan­sukha Jewellers, Kolkata, stated that sales were up by 14% as com­pared with last year. The re­tail com­pany’s new col­lec­tion called the Lites con­sist­ing of light­weight bridal jew­ellery was re­ceived well. “How­ever, our di­a­mond jew­ellery fared bet­ter and on an av­er­age peo­ple pur­chased jew­ellery in the range of

R2.50 lakh. Of all the jew­ellery sold, around 40% con­sisted of gold jew­ellery, while the rest con­sisted of di­a­mond, jadau and polki pieces. Bul­lion com­prised around 7% of the en­tire sales.”

“Sen­ti­ments to­wards gold jew­ellery were not so ro­bust, but we con­verted the walk-ins to buy di­a­mond jew­ellery,” in­formed Kapoor. “

“Di­a­mond jew­ellery sales this Akshaya Tri­tiya saw a more-than-av­er­age growth and has been grow­ing over the last few years. Though sales were not as fab­u­lous as that of gold,” said Sa­gar.

With di­a­monds gain­ing promi­nence, ris­ing in­fla­tion, fluc­tu­at­ing gold prices, does this mean a down­ward turn of tide for gold? “Around 10 years ago we were con­cerned that the next gen­er­a­tion may not be favourable to­wards gold. But over th­ese years, we have seen younger con­sumers are more en­thu­si­as­tic to con­nect with their roots, and are opt­ing for an­tique and her­itage jew­ellery. There are times when we have seen bud­gets be­ing split between gold and other luxury pur­chases. How­ever, since the fes­ti­val it­self is so closely tied to re­li­gious sen­ti­ments, buy­ing gold will always be preva­lent; even if it is as a to­ken pur­chase or for oc­ca­sions,” Sa­gar summed up.

Mal­abar Gold and Di­a­monds

Kama Jew­ellery

Mal­abar Gold and Di­a­monds

Anil Tal­war

Pratap Ka­math

Abaran

Mal­abar Gold and Di­a­monds

Gau­rav Singh Kush­waha

Colin Shah

Blue­stone.com

Po­p­ley Eter­nal

TMJ

Shreyansh Kapoor

Vinod Haya­griv

Blue­stone.com

Manub­hai Jewellers

Sau­rabh Gadgil

Amar Ghanas­ingh

TMJ

Forever­mark

TMJ

Reema Pahuja

Samir Sa­gar

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