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Dhanteras was a huge disappointment for jewellers and automakers but consumer goods companies such as Sony and Samsung and online retailers reported good sales.
Gold prices in Mumbai fell Rs 170 to a two-week low of Rs 30,510 per 10 gram on Friday. Jewellers reported lower sales because of lower supplies and high prices.
"The demand for gold is down by 15% to 20%. But sales of diamonds is up 20% said Mehul Choksi, MD, Gitanjali Gems. Tanishq declined to comment but all other jewellers HT spoke to echoed Choksi’s comments. But overall, the mood among jewellers was sombre.
Passenger car makers also had a muted Diwali. Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai India sales were flat in October, M&M and Tata Motors reported lower sales while Toyota Motors, Honda, Ford and General Motors registered higher sales.
"Our growth this season is almost at par with last year’s figures," said Sunil Nayyar, head, sales, Sony India. But sales have not reached the level of Diwali 2010 (the slowdown began the following year). Samsung has also met its targets for October.
Croma, the Tata group’s retail chain for consumer electronics and durables, observed greater demand for 40-inch and even larger television sets instead of popular 32 inch televisions, indicating, perhaps, that more affluent customers were driving sales.
"We noticed almost no browsing by customers this year," said Ajit Joshi, MD & CEO, Infiniti Retail Ltd, which owns Croma.
"This Diwali consumers are spending sensibly, finding value for money and not splurging," said Akshay Mehrotra, chief marketing officer, Big Bazaar.
Many customers are increasingly shifting to online shopping. Snapdeal and Flipkart have reported higher sales this season.