|People shop gold accessories in a gold store in Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi Province, Dec. 26, 2013. Many people purchase gold products as price of gold continues to drop recently. (Xinhua/Zhou Mi)|
BEIJING, Dec. 31-- Gold prices are down this year, breaking a 13 year winning streak in China.
But instead of worrying Chinese consumers, lower prices mean they’re buying more of the yellow metal as the country has already become the world's largest for gold trade.
An increasing number of Chinese are purchasing gold with a passion. Gold counters are now as crowded as supermarkets in many of the cities.
Whatever commodity analysts say, in consumers’ eyes, the precious metal hasn’t lost its shine.
"Many consumers came to choose gold rings, bracelets and earrings for Christmas and New Year. Some are buying gifts while others are buying in bulk for investment," said Cai Xiaolin, a sales assistant at Laomiao Gold In Yuyuan Garden, one of the largest gold jewelry hubs in Shanghai.
The new wave of gold buying came amid a quick slump in the price of the precious metal at the year end.
Gold prices have plunged some 30 percent over the past 12 months, the fourth largest fall in one year since the 1970s in China.
On Friday, the average price of pure gold at Chow Sang Sang Jewellery store in Beijing was 294 yuan per gram, excluding processing charges.
In a neighboring store of Cai Bai the average price was down to 302 yuan per gram, almost 20 percent lower than the beginning of the year.
"During this period last year the price was at around 400 yuan per gram. This year it fell to around 200 yuan per gram. This has piqued consumers’ interest. We are seeing a rise in sales this year," said a salesperson.
Unlike the gold craze in April when China's consumers purchased 300 metric tons within two weeks after the price slumped, this time the hot sales are mainly driven by holiday consumption.
Most of them are still sitting tight while facing the definitely bad news of slump.
Zhang Ting, a 47-year-old Shanghai resident, said she purchased 200 grams of gold bars at 345 yuan per gram early this year, but she does not regard the investment as a failure.
"As long as I don't sell them at a lower price, I'm not losing money," said Zhang.
"In China, an interesting feature of the gold market is you can hardly tell investment in gold apart from gold consumption. Buyers can swiftly shift their holdings from one category to another," said Cao Xiaorui, director of jewelry, Far East, for the World Gold Council.
And moreover, China's gold market is marching at its own pace, added Cao.
"Investing in gold bars and coins is considered long-term, and an increasing number of investors are realizing that gold is ideal to hedge risks, and put 5 to 10 percent of their assets into gold," agreed Yang Fei, a Shanghai-based gold product analyst.