Delhi, Mumbai and Coimbatore witnessed maximum buying on Akshaya Tritiya day, considered to be an auspicious day for buying gold and silver. Trading in Gold ETFs also rose by 14 percent to Rs 691 crore on NSE Monday.
Increased purchases, which started with crash in prices last month, intensified today post-lunch with major jewellers witnessing higher sales of up to 50 percent. Buying will continue till 1 pm and final figures will be known tomorrow.
"There was very good demand as prices remained lower. Buying is still happening. So far, I think sales have at least gone up by 10-15 percent at all-India level. Final figures will be collated tomorrow," Bombay Bullion Association Former President Suresh Hundia told PTI. In Mumbai, there was 10-12 percent rise in sales and spurt was seen gold coin and jewellery purchases to meet wedding demand, he added.
Mumbai Jewellers Association Vice Chairman Kumar Jain said, "Looking at today's rush, we are expecting around 25 tonne sales in volume term as compared to 17 tonne last year."
However, leading branded jewellery retailer Gitanjali Group Chairman and Managing Director Mehul Choksi said its sales across the country are estimated to have increased by 50 per cent to 350 kg worth Rs 125 crore so far today.
Based on initial reports, World Gold Council India MD Somasundaram PR said sales will be higher than last year.
Riddi Siddi Bullion Managing Director Prithviraj Kothari said, "Sales are impressives and are up by 15 percent. Falling prices have encouraged consumers to buy more gold."
Gold prices today fell by Rs 180 in the national capital to Rs 27,520 per ten grams. Prices declined by Rs 390 to Rs 26,985 in Mumbai, by Rs 260 to Rs 27,550 in Kolkata and by Rs 200 to Rs 27,170 per ten grams in Chennai.
Higher domestic demand since last month has led to a sharp jump in gold imports by 138 per cent to USD 7.5 billion in April, pushing up the trade deficit to USD 17.7 billion.
Incidentally, the RBI today imposed restrictions on import of the yellow metal by banks.
Gold prices have fallen by 5.4 percent since the last year's Akshaya Tritiya day on April 24, when gold rate was Rs 29,100 per 10 gm.
Leading jewellers of Delhi such as P C Jeweller and P P Jewellers said that sales picked up in the evening and are expected to be higher than last year.
"Retail consumers are buying especially today keeping the significance of the festival. Much of the gold buying took place in the last 15 days when prices fell significantly," Bullion and Jewellery Association President Ram Avatar Verma said.
Chandini Chowk, the hub of bullion trade, witnessed a mad rush for buying gold on the occasion. Most of them were purchasing gold jewellery, he said.
While the government is taking steps to curb gold imports to rein in current account deficit, World Gold Council said shipment of the yellow metal by India is expected to reach at around 900 levels in 2013 calendar year due to rise in demand following lower prices.
Last year, India -- the world's largest consumer -- imported 860 tonnes of the precious metal, while demand stood at 864 tonnes in the same year.
To check current account deficit, RBI today restricted the import of gold on consignment basis by banks, only to meet the genuine needs of exporters of gold jewellery.