Dubai: Dubai’s gold and jewellery trade is not waiting around for prices to subside from current levels and shoppers to return. They are using the in-between time to get their entire workforce vaccinated against COVID-19 and inspire confidence when shoppers turn up.
More than 3,000 from the sector had their jabs during a three-day vaccination drive, which will continue to “ensure that the full workforce of the sector is vaccinated at the earliest,” according to the Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group.
It's needed too. Apart from the added protection against COVID-19 related risks, this is one retail category that still relies mostly on direct shopper interaction at the stores. "Our plan is to have all the customer-facing staff vaccinated well before May 14, which is when 'Akshaya Trithiya' is celebrated this year," said the CEO of a leading jewellery firm.
Apart from the Dubai Shopping Festival phase, 'Akshaya Trithiya' marks the biggest moment in UAE's gold retail calendar for the first-half of each year. This is when expat Indians typically buy gold and other assets to mark the festival.
It has been a rough 12 months for the sector, with the lockdowns and gold’s sharp price climb leading to shoppers staying away. In absolute terms, 2020 sales have been rated the worst ever for the sector.
And now, the jewellery trade and shoppers are having to deal again with gold’s high prices. After dropping in March, recent weeks are seeing gold push closer to $1,800 an ounce levels. On Monday, it is trading at $1,780. (The Dubai Gold Rate is at Dh202.25 a gram for 22K. In March, it had dipped below Dh200.)
On the sector-wide vaccination, Tawhid Abdullah, Chairman of Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group, said “We are proud to be one of the first trade bodies in Dubai to secure the vaccine for all our members and their staff. Being responsible for the health and safety of our sector’s employees and consumers, this was incredibly important to us than anything else. Also, with an aim to limit the spread of COVID-19 this vaccination drive is a significant step.”