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Inflation ties heartland’s wedding consumption in knots

Persistent inflation is subduing wedding celebrations in India’s rural and semi-urban markets, particularly the large Hindi heartland, with demand faltering for customary wedding items such as gold jewellery and household appliances. Inflationary pressures are disrupting household budgets and there has been a noticeable strain on the purchasing power of people with low- to mid-level incomes. Overall consumption in small towns and rural areas has been affected for the past six to eight quarters, though the well-off in these markets are continuing to make purchases, that too of premium products.

Meanwhile, cash is replacing jewellery and electronic products as a wedding gift — a trend that has gained pace this year. Industry executives attribute this to the growing urbanisation of rural consumers. “Sales of appliances have dropped to 2020 levels post Diwali, with no uptake during the marriage season,” said Kamal Nandi, business head at Godrej Appliances. “People are moving out of gifting appliances in marriages and instead giving cash. We had expected the sales momentum to continue after Diwali due to so many weddings and a recovery in rural spending and entrylevel products, but it did not.” The wedding season traditionally provides a thrust to sales of refrigerators, washing machines, television sets and mixergrinders after Diwali every year, continuing till February.

Similarly, for jewellers, the December and March quarters generate about 60% of their annual sales due to Dhanteras and wedding season. Gold prices have climbed by 5% since Dhanteras-Diwali and are now at Rs 62,725 per 10 gm, whereby jewellers said small gold jewellery gifts like earrings and pendants were being replaced by cash.

Brides and grooms are also replacing heavy wedding jewellery with lightweight ornaments. A softer dollar and expectation of a pause in the Federal Reserve’s monetary tightening are driving gold prices northwards. Vaibhav Saraf, director of Aisshpra Gems & Jewels, said higher gold prices would mean lesser weight being sold, but the investment amount remains the same. “However, due to the increase in prices, sales of smaller items such as rings and earrings used for gifting have gone down. People are now preferring to give silver coins or cash,” said Saraf, whose company runs a chain of 11 stores across Gorakhpur, Deoria, Basti, Azamgarh and Ayodhya, in Uttar Pradesh.

Rural India comprises as much as 60% of India’s annual gold consumption, pegged to touch 700-750 tonnes this year by the World Gold Council – marginally lower than last year’s demand of 774 tonnes.


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