Not in the mood for all that glitters

Lacklustre: Jewellery stores, like this one in George Town, are facing slow business. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Just a few months after the gold rush when prices were quite low, jewellers have now been hit with a gold price spurt and poor business since the start of the third movement control order.

Most of them have seen an 80% drop in business with gold prices hitting RM250 per gram yesterday, the highest in three months.

VKN Jewellers store owner S. Yuvabalan said the current high price has dampened the gold-buying mood, while the increasing number of Covid-19 cases have led to people being afraid to come to Little India here where most of the jewellers are based.

“People usually buy jewellery during festivals and weddings but with no large weddings or gatherings in sight any time soon, our business is affected, ” he said.

Yuvabalan added that the i-Sinar withdrawal programme under the Employees’ Provident Fund had prompted a gold rush a few months ago as prices were hovering around RM220 per gram.

“Now that the period is over and with regular customers not buying any jewellery, we have to wait and see if business would get any better, ” he noted.

Krishnan Manickam of Devan Jewellers said it had been a rollercoaster ride since last year as the industry has been grappling with a lot of uncertainty coupled with unstable gold prices.

“People were frustrated as they had to postpone or cancel their weddings due to the MCO.

“For now, they are in no mood to make purchases but would rather trade in jewellery and look for bargains, ” he said, adding that there were only a few genuine buyers in recent months.

Nalla Jewellers managing director Imran Khan Varusai Mohamed said many were adopting the wait-and-see approach with the hope that gold prices would drop.

“Nobody wants to buy jewellery as festivals and weddings are still banned. Many are also having difficulty coming over, especially those from the mainland who have placed orders for certain types of jewellery.

“They are willing to collect it at a later date as there is no urgency to do it now, ” he said, adding that they could still do reasonable business during MCO 2.0 as there was no inter-district travel ban then.

Camy Jewellery Centre owner Low Check Kooi said business was brisk during the Hari Raya period and when EPF contributors got their hands on their i-Sinar money.

“But it’s now over. Nobody wants to spend money on jewellery.

“There are six jewellery shops at Komtar but none have any customers, ” Low said, adding that some of them would be closing for good once MCO 3.0 is over.

“I have been here for 35 years and now it is the people’s livelihood which is of utmost importance.

“Only those with disposable income will invest in jewellery, and many of the B40/M40 groups are struggling to make ends meet, ” he noted.

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