Jewellery

Gold Demand Trends Q3 2021

28 October, 2021

Jewellery

Jewellery demand sees ongoing recovery but has yet to regain pre-pandemic levels

  • The jewellery market continued to recover from 2020’s pandemic-driven weakness: Q3 demand was 33% higher y-o-y at 443t. 
  • Despite the strong recovery, quarterly jewellery demand remains relatively subdued from a longer-term perspective, 12% below the five-year average.
  • China, India and the Middle East were the centres of growth, although Western markets also saw recovery.
Tonnes Q3'20 Q3'21   YoY
World total 332.9 442.6 33%
India 60.8 96.2 58%
China, P.R.:Mainland 118.5 156.8 32%

Source: Metals Focus, World Gold Council

In Q3, gold jewellery demand was driven by economic recovery and improving consumer sentiment, continuing the trend from the first half of the year. Y-t-d, global jewellery demand is almost 50% higher than the same period in 2020. 

The US dollar value of jewellery demand grew 25% y-o-y to US$25.5bn. The lower average quarterly gold price offset the 33% increase in demand volumes. Nonetheless, this was the highest value for jewellery demand for a third quarter in eight years.

But the recovery in tonnage fell short of a return to pre-pandemic average levels. Q3 demand was 6% below Q3 2019 and 12% below the five-year quarterly average. Several markets, including Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand, were disrupted by continued lockdown restrictions. 

These restrictions not only impacted the strength of the recovery, but also data collection to some degree. As such, demand estimates may be more susceptible than usual to future revisions, once fieldwork is able to resume as normal. 

 

Jewellery demand has made a solid recovery y-t-d, but remains below average pre-COVID levels

Jewellery demand has made a solid recovery y-t-d, but remains below average pre-COVID levels

Jewellery demand, tonnes*

Jewellery demand has made a solid recovery y-t-d, but remains below average pre-COVID levels
Jewellery demand, tonnes*
*Data to 30 September 2021. Source: Metals Focus, World Gold Council

Sources: Metals Focus, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

*Data to 30 September 2021.

 

China

China’s gold jewellery demand reached 157t in Q3, 7% higher q-o-q and 32% higher y-o-y. Lower and more stable gold prices, coupled with relatively healthy growth in household disposable income, supported demand.1  Almost on a par with Q3 2019, this quarterly level was 7% below the 10-year average from 2010-2019 of 169t.

Three factors stand out:

  • price drop-led bargain hunting
  • seasonal strength
  • per-gram pricing. 

The sharp price drops in August and September sparked a bout of bargain hunting, which was followed by healthy gifting demand. Chinese Valentine’s Day, the Mid-Autumn festival and wedding demand helped to sustain this growth.2  

In addition, local jewellery retailers have been increasingly applying a ‘per-gram’ pricing to their 24K jewellery products and reducing the number of items priced on a ‘per-piece’ basis in response to consumers’ demand for greater transparency. As a result, jewellers focused on selling chunkier, heavier items – which yield higher profits under the per-gram pricing model – lifting China’s gold jewellery demand in tonnage terms. 

Heritage gold products continued to take centre stage. Local retailers and manufacturers are focusing greater efforts on promoting Heritage gold jewellery items given their growing popularity, with consumers attracted by their traditional cultural designs. These product ranges also benefited from the shift towards ‘per gram’ pricing.

Hard 24K gold jewellery products’ market share remained relatively stable in Q3. These lightweight products continue to attract young consumers. But this sector may face challenges from the shifting pricing methods discussed above. Hard 24K products are largely priced by piece, which could hinder the future expansion of this segment.

The full-year outlook for China’s jewellery demand is positive, but not without challenges. Y-t-d demand already exceeds full-year 2020 and Q4 got off to a strong start with robust jewellery sales during the National Day holiday.3  But risks remain. China’s economic growth faces challenges and should recent power rationing measures continue, this would likely create manufacturing bottlenecks. In view of this, we remain cautiously optimistic about China’s gold jewellery demand in the coming months.

India 

Jewellery demand in India in Q3 increased approximately 60% both q-o-q and y-o-y, due to strong pent-up demand, a rebound in economic activity and lower gold prices. Having been locked down for much of Q2 to combat the severe second wave of COVID-19, jewellery demand bounced back sharply in the third quarter. An acceleration in the vaccination programme and a strong end to the monsoon season further boosted consumer sentiment. 

Occasion-related gift buying witnessed a strong comeback in Q3 and demand was buoyant ahead of the two-week inauspicious Pitru Paksha (or Shraddh) period which fell at the end of September. Retailers anticipating strong demand during the Q4 wedding and festive season built up their inventories in preparation – and reports suggest that it has indeed got off to a brisk start.

At a regional level, Northern India outperformed the South as some Southern states – notably Kerala – were impacted by higher COVID cases and restrictions on store operating times.

Hallmarking activity has gradually increased after some initial teething issues following the introduction of mandatory hallmarking. The industry continues to adapt to the system, which should ultimately improve transparency and give consumers greater confidence in the purity of the gold they buy. 

Q4 demand has mixed influences. A higher number of auspicious wedding days bodes well for jewellery demand for the remainder of the year, especially because the good monsoon should support rural incomes. But the potential for further waves of COVID, which may require further lockdowns, is an ever-present threat.

 

India, China and the Middle East accounted for much of the y-o-y rebound

India, China and the Middle East accounted for much of the y-o-y rebound

Jewellery demand by country/region, tonnes*

India, China and the Middle East accounted for much of the y-o-y rebound
Jewellery demand by country/region, tonnes*
*Data to 30 September 2021. Source: Metals Focus, World Gold Council

Sources: Metals Focus, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

*Data to 30 September 2021.

 

Middle East & Turkey

Turkish jewellery demand in Q3 jumped 41% compared with Q3’20 – the third consecutive quarterly y-o-y increase. Demand reached 9t – the strongest Q3 since 2017. The lifting of lockdown restrictions released pent-up demand, which was further boosted by relatively low, stable local gold prices during much of the quarter. The resumption of social events – including postponed weddings – had a significant positive impact. 

Markets across the Middle East all witnessed y-o-y growth in Q3 jewellery demand, due to a combination of lower and relatively stable gold prices and easing of COVID restrictions. Iran saw a 60% y-o-y rise in demand to 7t, further aided by a period of relative currency stability. Meanwhile, demand in the UAE more than doubled from Q3’20, to reach 8t. Improving tourist arrivals (especially from India) aided the recovery.

The West

Jewellery demand in the US increased by 12% y-o-y to 32t – the highest Q3 since 2009. Continued economic recovery and a successful vaccination campaign helped to fuel the y-o-y growth, which was the more impressive considering that the market had already begun to recover in Q3 last year. Indicative of the strength of jewellery demand, jewellery retail giant Signet raised its third quarter and fiscal 2022 guidance, citing ‘continued strong business momentum’ and a ‘positive response’ among customers.4 

Demand was 16% lower q-o-q, however. Q2 2021 was a very strong quarter and it is likely that the withdrawal of federal income support in Q3 contributed to this quarterly drop. 

Consumer sentiment continued to improve across Europe, reflected in a 19% y-o-y rise in Q3 jewellery demand across the region. Q3 demand increased to 12.2t, which broadly marked a return to pre-COVID levels: Q3’19 demand was 12.4t. 

Re-opening of the region’s economies following lockdown was the primary driver of growth, albeit that long-haul tourists remained largely absent, which removed a potential element of demand. 

ASEAN markets

In Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, Q3 jewellery demand was 7t, up 56% y-o-y. Demand y-t-d was 31% higher at 17t. Having been hit hard by COVID, jewellery demand remains below pre-pandemic levels. But Q3 was the third consecutive quarter of growth, thanks to a positive economic outlook and the drop in local prices, which made gold jewellery more affordable for low-income consumers. 

Jewellery consumption in Thailand rose by 39% y-o-y to 2t. This is the third consecutive quarter of growth, and the increase would likely have been larger had it not been for the second wave of COVID in Bangkok. The main reasons for the recovery were the easing of restrictions and increased vaccination rates, which will eventually facilitate the resurgence of the Thai tourism industry, as well as the revival of manufacturing and exports.

Contrastingly, in Vietnam jewellery demand in Q3 halved y-o-y to 1t. This is the lowest quarter in our GDT data series since 2000. Jewellery consumption was severely affected by the fourth wave of COVID, as all gold jewellery retail outlets in Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta provinces were closed for much of the quarter. Although online purchases of jewellery are growing, there is still a preference for purchasing from a shop, and these areas typically represent 60% of the retail sales network. 

Muted economic sentiment also had an impact. Vietnam’s economy contracted for the first time in three decades, and rising inflation and unemployment has led to a decrease in discretionary spending. We expect demand to pick up in Q4, however, as all major gold outlets reopened on 1 October ahead of the coming wedding season and year-end festivities.    

Jewellery demand in Singapore declined for the third consecutive quarter to 1t. This is likely due to the intermittent COVID restrictions imposed this year. COVID restrictions had a similar impact in Malaysia, where jewellery consumption slumped by 46% y-o-y. However, with the restrictions starting to ease in both countries we expect to see a rebound in Q4. 

Rest of Asia

Jewellery consumption in Japan increased 15% y-o-y to 4t. This is the third consecutive quarterly growth in jewellery demand, although this is from a low Q3’20 base and remains below pre-pandemic levels. COVID has had an impact in Japan, but to a lesser extent than other markets in Asia. While purchases from physical shops are still subdued, there have been strong sales from online channels. There is a small seasonal element to buying in Japan and the bi-annual bonus rounds that take place for many in June and July can have a modest impact on jewellery demand in the third quarter.

South Korean jewellery consumption rose 6% y-o-y to 4t. The stronger demand was in part due to falling prices in advance of the upcoming wedding season.  

Footnotes

  1. The 2021 Chinese Valentine’s Day occurred on 14 August and the Mid-Autumn festival (or Moon festival) occurred on 21 September

  2. The National Day public holiday is celebrated on 1 October.

Disclaimer [+]Disclaimer [-]