COVID-19: Jewellery shops witness low customer footfalls in spite of festival season

Hyderabad: Gold and jewellery shop owners in the city continue to struggle and are in a financially dire situation owing to the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in a severe financial crunch. The industry is witnessing limited purchases across stores in Hyderabad in spite of the ongoing peak wedding and festive season.

Gold demand in Hyderabad plunged ever since the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown hit business. Migrant labour returning back and peoples incomes getting hit (due to job losses) has also resulted in businesses finding it difficult to survive even today.

The aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdown on the jewellery industry here has caused grave concerns among store owners. 

“The pandemic has affected small shop owners worst, whereas the well-established owners in the city say that the market is showing small signs of recovery from the impact of both covid waves,” said the director of Mohammed Khan’s Jewellers Mokhtiyar Ahmed. He added that the gold and jewellery market is slowly going up.

“Two months ago the situation was quite grim when compared to pre-pandemic days. The business is still down by 10-15%,” he told situation has been so bad for some that gold merchants are even having to return the jewellery they purchase from goldsmiths due to low customer footfalls.

When shop owners or merchants fail to pay goldsmiths, they are forced to return back the gold jewellery to the makers. Balaji Biredar, who owns a small shop called Balaji Jewellers in Attapur, said his business is still down by 40-45% compared to what it was in early 2020. As a result, he had to lay off 30% of his manpower, which mainly comprises of goldsmiths.

Even three months after easing the second COVID-19 lockdown (imposed in May), Hyderabad’s famous gold ornaments industry in the Old City is still struggling to get back to its feet. Thousands of goldsmiths who left for their native places (in states like West Bengal) during last year and this year’s lockdown also haven’t returned to work due to uncertainty and less demand.

In Telangana, the workforce of goldsmiths is migrant workers from West Bengal who mainly resided in Ghansi Bazaar, Gulzar Houz near Charminar, said jewellery merchants in Hyderabad. Sunil Agarwal, vice president of the Telangana Jewellers Association for the south zone said that only 50 per cent of goldsmith migrant workers have returned to the city after easing of lockdown this year.

Generally, during the festival seasons of Dussera and Diwali, gold and jewellery shops witness a surge in purchases by customers. Many shops make the most of their profits during the festival season.