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Virus hits China's gold jewellery demand as shoppers stay away

14 February 2020


Sales of gold jewellery in China are set to plummet this year as the economic damage from the deadly coronavirus crisis widens.


The death toll from the outbreak has topped 1,100 and shoppers are staying away from public places to avoid infection, while also limiting their spending to basic necessities such as groceries. Jewellery retailers such as Luk Fook Holdings International Ltd are shortening business hours and managing time off for employees in an effort to prevent the disease from spreading."People are not in the mood to shop for jewellery," said Zhang Yongtao, chief executive officer of the China Gold Association. "Stores and shopping malls are closed because of the virus," he said, adding that sales of gold jewellery and bars will drop substantially this year.Metals Focus, a London-based research firm, sees a 6 per cent drop in sales in China this year, extending an estimated 7 per cent drop in 2019 to a seven-year low. It said the decline could turn out to be "particularly acute" given the Chinese New Year has traditionally been the busiest period.The crisis comes at a time when physical demand is already suffering in China and India, the world's largest gold consumers, due to rising prices and slower economic growth.