Imports slumped more than 25 per cent to 54 metric tons in June from a year earlier, a person familiar with the information said, asking not to be identified as the figures aren’t public. Overseas purchases plunged 40 per cent to 343 tons in the first half from a year ago, according to data from Finance Ministry officials compiled by Bloomberg.
Buying has been poor as the rupee extended its slump to a record low last month, making prices of overseas goods more expensive. Rural demand has suffered as farmers typically slow purchases from June to August because they are busy taking advantage of seasonal rains to plant crops. Finance Ministry spokesman D.S. Malik declined to comment on the June numbers.
Another reason for the decline in demand has been the waning interest from millennials, who are more attracted by high-end consumer goods. The precious metal has dropped to third position among India’s imports as the relentless rise in purchases of smartphones, TVs and other goods has made electronics the second-largest item, with oil the first.
Prices in India are holding above the psychological level of Rs 30,000 per 10 grams, discouraging fresh buying, said Gnanasekar Thiagarajan, a director at Commtrendz Risk Management Services Pvt. Ltd. “The great performance of equities in India has dented the appetite for safe-haven gold.”