“The government has accepted the request of stakeholders to give jewellers some more time to get prepared for implementation and resolve issues,” said a senior official.
GJEPC (Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council) said while the hallmarking order excludes exporters, the authorities should explicitly clarify that jewellers having transactions only in the export stream are completely excluded from the purview of this order.
“The government has said that hallmarking will become mandatory from June 1. So, we too, are coming up with an adequate number of hallmarking centres to support the industry,” said Uday Shinde, president, Indian Association of Hallmarking Centres. “A standard hallmarking centre requires Rs 70- Rs 80 lakh to be set up.”
Demand was minuscule last year, when the country was in a lockdown on Akshaya Tritiya in late April. But consumer sentiment wasn’t this bad, as there were very few Covid cases at the time, and many had booked gold over the phone or purchased it online. Whatever little bit of business is happening now, it is mainly through online platforms, jewellers said.
“According to an estimate, due to the lock down and coronavirus restrictions, the gold and jewelry trade recorded a loss of about Rs 10,000 crores. Last year too, due to the lock down, jewellery traders were not able to do any significant business on Akshaya Tritiya,” a CAIT release said.
“The US demand has remained strong since the holiday season. Now, with vaccination in place in Europe, demand will come from those countries soon. Also, the Far East looks promising,” said Vipul Shah, vice chairman, Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council.
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.
Aware that maintaining the Covid-19 protocol, which requires social distancing, is impossible in the crowded and dingy lanes of Zaveri Bazaar, the India Bullion & Jewellers Association plans to relocate the gold trade to a 60-acre plot in Navi Mumbai.
"I do not have a count of currently operational stores... All our conversations at the moment are about the safety of people and not about how many stores are open."
Production has taken a hit at a time when the trade is witnessing strong demand from the US and Chinese markets, diamantaires said.
As a result, salon visits post lockdown for hair cut, facial or pedicure could double up as a shopping stint for skin care, cosmetics, and fragrances. So far, services was the core business of salons and chains sold just hair care contributing a mere 10% of total sales. However, salons are increasing their retail space by 30-50% by aggressively entering partnerships with beauty brands.
There are many factors that pushed up the demand for gold that include festive time in domestic market and various countries during the said time; resumption of mining and exporting activities; resumption of production activities in domestic and global market; development of vaccine and start of vaccination and relaxation over the travel, GJEPC said.