Smaller cities of Maharashtra are beginning to see some hope with gold being favoured over diamonds any day
Footfall in tier 2 & 3 cities in Maharashtra have exceeded expectations, although jewellers are facing challenges because sales staff and customers from red zones are unable to come to the stores
Jewellery stores in tier 2 and 3 cities in Maharashtra have been opening since second week of May. They are allowed to operate on even days, which has been good in many ways as customers are eager to make the best of it on days the stores are open. As weddings are still happening in small scale, the demand for heavy gold pieces as well as mangalsutras and every day wear is prominent whereas diamond jewellery demand is witnessing an all time low.
The problem with customization
Pune based Rathod Jewellers opened their store on 18th May. “Demand is decent. Around 8-9 customers are coming and they are buying everything. We are witnessing both casual and occasion based purchase,” says Jignesh Rathod. However, since manufacturing has not opened up, delivering custom orders is becoming a big problem. “When people want customized orders or change the size of a bangle or ring, we are not able to fulfill their requirement,” adds Rathod. They are also being extremely cautious about their inventory and work on a strict no credit sale policy. “We are not doing any credit sales, so that working capital remains stable. So whatever sales we have made after we opened our showroom, we have pumped it back into the working capital, this is the only way to get your cash flowing. We need to employ good credit control measures in place so that we have cash to purchase new goods,” he adds.
Low diamond jewellery sales
For Pune based Ashtekar Brothers Jewellers, footfall has been average. “We get to operate on alternate days and sometimes we don’t get weekends. Those who are coming are buying gold jewellery, both heavy and lightweight sets. Marriages are happening, though in small scale, so people are coming in to buy bridal sets as well. Diamond jewellery sales are completely down,” adds Akash Ashtekar. Safety is a big concern and most sales people are not able to come to work because they live in a red zone. “We have made a conscious decision not to buy any new pieces. For safety reason, we don’t showcase jewellery on display. When customer comes in and enquires, then we show them a piece,” he adds.
Customers are not complying with the rules
It has been over fifteen days since Nagpur based Dass Jewellers opened its stores, they are also allowed to work on even days. “Footfall is better than what we had expected, almost 10-15 families are coming. Some of them are marriage purchases but some are everyday jewellery. People also come in to exchange or repairs. Complying with all the norms is a challenge because some people are not following the rules and we have to insist on them wearing masks. It is difficult to make them understand,” adds Sacheen Vastani. They are selling from what they have because Bombay is closed. Regular items like chains and mangalsutras are sourced from wholesalers. “We are availing the benefits of moratorium and we are managing to pay our staff. It is difficult to manage though as the overheads of running a jewellery store is huge. We are trying to make our payments once we get our hands on some liquidity. It will take some time, may be 2 months. Offseason will start in June as there are no marriages, June to August again will be very weak,” he adds.
With rising cases, footfall could decrease
As government has allowed marriages with 50 people to happen, Pune-based Neelkanth Jewellers is making the most out of customers who want to buy jewellery for weddings. “So far footfall has been good. We are witnessing 50% of the normal footfall. We are selling both gold and diamond jewellery,” adds Surendarpal Singh. His staff members however are not able to come to work as they live in red zones. “Customers who are in red zone are also not able to come and since the cases are increasing, people are afraid to come,” he adds.
Trust & brand value makes all the difference
All is well for Nashik based Govind Dhande & Sons. They opened their store on 6th May and they have been witnessing 50-100 people on a daily basis. “This is only because of the trust people have in us and also weddings are happening. Everything from necklaces to mangalsutras are moving. Demand for diamond jewellery will take time to pick up,” says Devyani Dhande. However, due to restrictions, stores are not allowed to let in more than a stipulated number of people. “Customers have to wait outside and that makes them angry,” quips Dhande.