By Stanley Carvalho
Sales up by as much as 25% from Nov to Dec despite rising prices- traders.
Seasonal holiday buying helped lift retail gold sales in Abu Dhabi in December from November after high prices and the global economic slowdown hit sales for most of the year, traders said on Wednesday.
But with international gold prices near record levels, traders predicted a bleak January.
Tushar Patni, director of Ajanta Jewellers and former chairman of the Abu Dhabi gold and jewellery group, said: "Unless the price comes down, there is nothing that will get people to buy gold."
Tax free jewellery in the UAE's gold souks and shopping malls draws Gulf, Arab, Asian and western tourists. But tourism to the UAE has been hit by the global economic crisis.
The volume and value of retail gold sales in Abu Dhabi in December was about the same as the year earlier, said Patni.
Flat sales were an improvement over the year on year declines in previous months of around 30 percent.
Sales were up as much as 25 percent from November despite the rising price of the yellow metal, traders said.
Patini said: "Sales in December were generally okay, 20 to 25 percent better than in November due to Eid, Christmas and the holiday season where expatriates buy gold before leaving."
Expatriates, many of them Asian, comprise the majority of the population in the United Arab Emirates, of which Abu Dhabi is the capital.
Some retailers saw sales growing in double digits after suffering flat turnover in the previous months.
Chengalan Sajid, manager at Joy Allukas Jewellery, which has three outlets in Abu Dhabi, said: "December was good. We had a 25 percent increase in sales over November, that too with the gold price being higher."
With prices showing no signs of falling, traders forecast poor sales in January.
Spot gold traded from a low of $1,086 to $1,217.40 an ounce in December. Retail gold prices move in line with spot prices. (Reuters)retail news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.