Retail Silver may Recover Faster than Gold

DUBAI — Silver retail sale volumes in Dubai fell around 20 per cent since January as economic downturn deterred tourists, but a faster recovery is expected than for gold whose price remains high, retailers said on Thursday.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Fri 28 Aug 2009, 11:20 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 10:13 PM

The precious metals retail sector has suffered this year as the economic crisis reduced consumers’ disposable incomes and led to fewer visitors to the United Arab Emirates.

“Silver sales have dropped by around 20 per cent since January and it’s not because the price is high, it’s because less visitors are coming to Dubai,” said Ayman Alchaai, general manager of Sameer Jewellery, one of the largest silver retail wholesalers in Dubai.

“But I think the recovery of silver will be faster as we are starting to see a trend with local consumers substituting their gold purchases with silver,” he added.

In July retail gold sales in Dubai fell by around 40 per cent as the price of the yellow metal continued to escalate due to investor demand.

“More and more these days we are starting to see locals buying very well crafted silver jewellery which looks like white gold,” according to Dubai-based silver retailer.

“The price of gold is still high and people can’t buy as much gold as they used to, so there’s an opportunity for silver,” he said. Silver spot prices have risen by around 26 per cent since January to $14.24 an ounce on Thursday.

“It’s true that the price of silver has increased but right now people who can no longer afford the high gold prices find silver as the second best option,” said a salesman from Khalifa Jewellery, a medium-sized store based in Dubai.

Gold has risen around 39 per cent to about $945 an ounce on Thursday from a low near $680 in October, as investors see the metal as a safe haven in a time of economic uncertainty.

But in the Middle East retail consumers make up more of the market than investors and rather than buying gold, cash-strapped consumers are selling it.

“As gold prices are not likely to see a major drop over the coming year I find that silver will gain more popularity in the retail market and have a faster recovery in terms of sales,” said Sameer Jewellery’s Alchaai. “By the last quarter of this year I expect demand for silver will pick up again.”

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