Markets in the capital on Sunday dazzled as shoppers thronged jewellery and utensil stores to buy their items of choice on Dhanteras in a bid to bring home Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.
Besides the traditional purchase of gold and silver ornaments or stainless steel utensils, citizens also spent a lot on electronic gadgets such as LED televisions and touch-screen mobiles. New-age customers, on the other hand, opted for e-gold purchase.
The price of gold at Rs 3,210 per gram proved to be a deterrent to most middle-class families. They, however, found solace in silver. The more traditional, though, opted to bring home stainless steel utensils.
Jewellery shops were chock-a-block with customers eager to check out what suited their taste and budget best. The soaring price of gold triggered a surge in demand for all things silver.
"Every year, we invest in gold on Dhanteras. This year, I could only afford a silver coin. Gold prices are too steep," said homemaker Namrata Jain of Boring Road. On the sales figures of his shop, Shekhar Keshari, the owner of Hira Panna Jewellers near Dakbungalow roundabout, said: "High price is not a barrier for most Indian customers. We have ordered for Hallmarked gold and silver coins because of greater awareness about quality certificate." He added that his shop witnessed around 25 per cent increase in sales on Sunday.
Kushal, the store manager of Nakshatra Jewellers at PandM Mall, revealed a shift in trend. He said: "Around 128 advance bookings have been placed for diamond jewellery on Dhanteras. Considering the demand, we ordered a large range of Italian diamond jewellery set in silver. The response was very encouraging."
"Traditionally, we buy something made of gold or silver on Dhanteras. But the gold rate has forced me to opt for diamonds this year," said Nanda Garg, buying a diamond fashion pendant at Nakshatra Jewellers.
Silver coins appeared the first choice of several customers. "The sale of gold coins is the same as compared to last year. But the sales of silver coins have undoubtedly broken last year's record," said Madan Prasad Gupta, the owner of Alankar Jewellers near Boring Road roundabout. "Affording a gold coin this year is like a dream come true though I fear the purity of gold during the festive season," said Mala Sinha, a homemaker. She added that she had opted to invest in gold exchange trade funds (ETF). ETFs are open-ended funds that trade on a stock exchange like shares of a company. Avinash Anand, who has preferred to invest in gold ETF this year, said: "There is almost a 30 per cent increase in e-gold purchasing. To avoid any kind of impurity and theft, I decided to buy ETF."
Not to be left behind were the gizmo freaks of the capital.
An ecstatic Sanju Sinha, a teacher at Don Bosco Academy, said: "I bought a 40-inch LED TV today from a showroom on Boring Road. My daughter, Ankita, saw it at a friend's house and has been asking for one ever since. I promised her to buy the TV on Dhanteras." Yashovardhan Sinha, the owner of a showroom near Planetarium, said: "This year, 40-inch LED TVs have been a hit. You won't believe that in just three hours of opening my shop today, I sold more than 600 pieces of 40-inch LEDs." Almost all shops selling electronic appliances saw a similar trend. Touch-screen mobiles, digital cameras and refrigerators also sold like hot cakes. "Till now, I have sold around 500 digital cameras and 200 refrigerators. People are lapping up the LED TV-home theatre combo offer," said Sinha.
Amit Verma, a mobile store owner at SP Verma Road, said: "I have sold 20 touch-screen mobiles till now. The range starting from Rs 4,600 is a hit among youths."
Those who could not afford to buy gold or silver preferred to go for branded electronic gadgets only and those who did not wish to spend extra money preferred to buy stainless steel utensils to fulfil the tradition of buying some metal on Dhanteras.
Homemaker Sangita Narayan said: "Everything becomes so costly during Dhanteras. So every year, I prefer to buy only steel utensils. I belong to a middle-class family and sticking to my budget is very important. Today, I bought a set of steel utensils for Rs 400."