‘Social distancing’ and ‘self-quarantine’ are the new buzzwords. Conversations anywhere these days are peppered with COVID-19, hygiene, sanitization, lockdowns and what have you. Understandably, buying jewellery is the last thing on people’s minds right now. As big social gatherings and weddings are getting postponed or happening in a smaller scale within the confines of walls, jewellery stores across India are witnessing a drop in footfalls every single day.
In the meantime, Karnataka state government has ordered shutdown of places of mass gatherings including malls, theatres, marriages and even asked IT companies to extend work from home for its employees. “It is a wait and watch game now. But after all this is behind us, the market will bounce back. Weddings will continue to happen and people will come in during festivals to buy jewellery,” adds Ravindranth.
For Hyderabad-based Aabharanam Jewellers, the impact is not seen that much.
While the air is filled with panic, jewellers are also taking necessary measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. “We are sanitising the whole store and using disposable water glasses. We have kept sanitisers for customers as well. We are fumigating the premises and ensuring that no one is infected in our store, our staff or customers. In Surat there is no case as yet. We are willing to keep the shop closed for some days or weeks, we are mentally prepared to shut the shop till the virus is contained,” says Milan Shah of Kalamandir, who has seen a 50 per cent drop in customers over the last 10 days.
Big stores in Chennai’s bustling T Nagar, the hub of jewellery stores, have been asked by the government to shut down till the end of the month. Some of these stores have hundreds of staff working for them in addition to a huge number of people who visit the stores. Chennai-based Challani Jewellery Mart has closed down its store beginning today as per government regulations.
“We have been witnessing a 60 per cent decrease in our footfall. People are scared and they are constantly thinking about coronavirus. Whoever we interact with, the conversation is about coronavirus only. Nobody is in the mood to buy jewellery. We have asked our staff who are travelling from far off places to take leave, so around 50 per cent of our sales staff have not been coming to work,” said owner Jayantilal Challani.
For Lucknow-based Aracelli Jewellers, from 3rd March, footfall has been declining gradually between 5 – 10 per cent. “The sentiment is very bad. Jewellery has become a need-based purchase only. Nobody is buying jewellery on an impulse,” said owner Raghav Gupta. They have also taken strict measures to keep their sales staff and customers safe.
“We keep sanitizing all our furniture and equipment. We have created more distance between customers and sales staff. We have discontinued biometrics. Once customers leave, we are cleaning the tables, chairs etc. If the situation arises, we will fully cooperate and shut down our store, but I hope it doesn’t come to that,” said Raghav.