New Delhi, Oct 25 : The economic slowdown has dimmed the festive mood with jewellers reporting lower sales on Dhanteras day, the most auspicious day ahead of Diwali.
Delhi-based traders' body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said that business of both gold and silver has registered sharp decline of 35-40 per cent on Friday.
It termed the fall in sales of gold and silver as unprecedented.
Pankaj Arora, Chairman of the Gold and Jewelry Committee of CAIT, said the fewer customers who came to buy gold and silver did so to just keep up with the tradition as the day is considered auspicious.
"Last year, on Dhanteras, about 17,000 kg of gold was sold, which was worth about Rs 5,500 crore, whereas today there was about 6,000 kg of trade across the country which is worth about Rs 2,500 crore," the CAIT said.
Besides slowdown and subdued consumer sentiment, the prices of the two key precious metals have been very high this time.
While the price of gold was about Rs 32,500 per 10 grams today, the yellow metal was selling for Rs 39,500 per 10 grams at retail outlets. The price of silver was Rs 39,000 per kg last year, it has touched Rs 48,000 per kg this time around.
"About 900 tonnes of gold is imported every year, taking the average of earlier years, it appears that only 400 tonnes of gold will be imported throughout the year which is mainly due to increase in customs duty by the government about four months back," the traders' group said, adding the move had encouraged illegal trade.
Pankaj Khanna, MD & Founder, Gem Selections said his firm had witnessed huge increase in silver sale, but gold has been down this Dhanteras.
India has been the key market for gold as a large section of people consider it as the safest investment instrument besides being worn as ornaments.
Besides serving as a store of value, the yellow metal is also looked up to for relief in times of economic or financial distress.