By Brecken Branstrator
Gold jewelry demand was down 3 percent in the U.S. in the third quarter as the effects of the pandemic are ongoing. Seen here are a pair of 18-karat yellow gold hoops from Roberto Coin.
London—The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a negative effect, unsurprisingly, on gold jewelry demand.

According to the World Gold Council’s Gold Demand Trends report for Q3, demand lifted from its record low in the second half, but was still “in the doldrums,” hampered by the global economy and high gold prices.

According to Kitco, gold peaked at $2,067.15 per ounce in August before slowing down, averaging a per-ounce price of $1,900.27 in October. It started the year at $1,560.67 per ounce (average) in January.

Global jewelry demand was at 333 tons in the third quarter, registering its third-lowest quarterly total in WGC’s data going back to Q1 2001 and representing a 29 percent decrease over the same period last year.

Comparing in value terms is “less stark,” WGC said, noting Q3 jewelry demand was at $20.4 billion, only an 8 percent decrease year-over-year.

The lift it did have over the second quarter was due to most markets seeing at least some relaxation in the strictest lockdown measures, according to the report, with some also seeing a notable shift toward online shopping.

Meanwhile, gold jewelry demand year-to-date totaled just 904 tons, the lowest in the council’s data series “by some margin”—it’s a 30 percent decease compared with the same period in 2009, when demand was 1,292 tons.

WGC said though China and India were major contributors to the global weakness because of their significance to the market, weakness was universal, with “no bright spots of note.”

The U.S., however, proved to be “relatively resilient” compared with global markets, posting a small decline of 3 percent year-over-year in the third quarter.

In-store demand was still “anemic” in the third quarter as consumers avoided shops and malls; online sales picked up a lot of that loss, WGC added.

Meanwhile, as China returned to a more normal state post-lockdown in the third quarter, jewelry demand continued its recovery from Q1 lows but stayed very soft compared with the same period in 2019.

The region’s gold jewelry demand was 119.1 tons in Q3, representing a 31 percent rebound from Q2. And though it marked a 25 percent year-over-year decline, the gold council said it was still much smaller than the 52 percent drop in H1 demand.

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Year-to-date demand in China hit 271 tons, a 43 percent decrease over the first nine months of 2019.

Indian jewelry demand, meanwhile, began a modest recovery from its Q2 record low in the third quarter, though the level still was well below what it saw in 2019.

Gold jewelry demand in the region was 48 percent lower year-over-year at 52.8 tons, which WGC said was the third-lowest quarter for Indian jewelry demand in its data series.

Consumers there not only were coping with recurring lockdowns and their heavy economic impact as well as unprecedented gold prices, but also the timing of two Hindu celebrations in September being considered inauspicious for gold buying.

Demand was also weak in Turkey and across the Middle East as well as in Europe, where gold demand decreased 17 percent compared with the year-earlier period. But Europe’s Q3 results also meant a 32 percent quarterly improvement, reflecting a release in pent-up demand as lockdowns eased.

Demand for gold overall dropped to 892.3 tons in the third quarter—its lowest quarterly total since Q3 2009—as the global pandemic continued to effect consumers and investors alike.

At 2,972.1 tons, year-to-date demand is 10 percent below the same period of 2019.

Supply was also down in Q3, declining by 3 percent year-over-year to 1,224 tons.

Mine production also decreased by 3 percent to 884 tons as the industry continue to suffer from COVID-19 restrictions, though the World Gold Council noted it still marks a substantial recovery over Q2.

Year-to-date, total supply was down 5 percent over the same period in 2019 due to disruption from the pandemic.

TAGS:   Retail , Trends
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