October marks the start of the Indian wedding season. Savvy investors know Indian wedding season by another name − the gold rush. Read on to learn more about the connection between Indian weddings and gold prices and what this means for gold investors.
Why Indian Weddings Mean “Gold Rush”
There are 20,000 Indian weddings per year and many of these take place between October and December. A second round of Indian weddings occurs between January and March. These time periods have several auspicious dates according to the Hindu calendar, thus the high number of weddings occurring during these months.
While every Indian wedding is unique in its own way, gold plays a starring role in each event. Hindus believe that gold brings good luck and blessings from the goddess Lakshmi. Both guests and celebrants head to jewelry shops to buy gold jewelry for the happy events.
Across India, the majority of people do not have bank accounts. Many people use gold the way Americans used to, as a physical way to store (and secure) their wealth. While Indians are less likely to trade gold for money nowadays, they still believe the yellow metal brings security. For a big wedding an Indian bride might put on all of the gold she has accumulated in her lifetime as a display of wealth.
One wedding planner estimates that Indian families spend as much as 25 percent of the wedding budget on gold. Upper middle-class Indian weddings cost about $200,000, so this might mean $50,000 is spent on gold for a single wedding.
How Wedding Season Affects Gold Prices
The demand for gold is so high that India imports billions of dollars worth of gold each month to keep up with demand, since the country cannot mine enough gold to supply India’s demand for the precious metal.
Some Indians even fly to Dubai − three hours from Mumbai − to purchase physical gold. Dubai’s gold shops report an increase of up to 25 percent in the months leading up to the Indian wedding season. Even counting the duty that Indian customers must pay, if they exceed the allotted amount of gold that can be imported duty-free, shoppers save approximately 6 to 9 percent by shopping in Dubai.
Last year, Indian gold imports grew by 67 percent at 855 tons of gold. Traders are anticipating similar returns this year.
While there are doubters, historic trends prove the pattern: Over the last 15 years, gold traders have enjoyed big wins during the wedding season 75 percent of the time. Even during the 2008-2009 period, when the financial crisis was at its worst, gold traders saw profits.
Whether you are interested in gold as a hedge against inflation or value the yellow metal for the emotional connection, the way many Indians do, gold is a valuable addition to your portfolio − and now is a great time to buy. Owning physical gold brings peace of mind and, no matter what happens to the dollar or the market, you have something that is inherently valuable.
If you are looking to increase your holdings or to start investing in physical gold, do what the Middle Eastern traders are doing and pick up bargain-priced gold this month, to see big gains come October.