After a tumultuous post-Covid period and an unprecedented year-and-a-half since the outbreak of the deadly virus, Dhanteras saw consumers return to the market with vengeance as shopping fervour on the auspicious day regained previous peaks across product categories — from the customary gold and silver, to automobiles and white goods such as televisions, refrigerators and washing machines. The only spoiler: shortages due to supply crunch and semiconductor woes, which impacted the car industry very badly. Gold sellers too reported shortages due to supply constraints, especially for coins which generally are in high demand on Dhanteras. TOI spoke to a cross-section of companies and retailers across the country, and the mood was upbeat, though marred by shortages. “The market is back on track, and at pre-Covid levels in terms of demand. There is heavy rush and strong buying,” Akhil Nirankari, Director at Narang Nirankari Jewellers in Delhi, said. Nirankari said that rationalization in gold prices over the past few months, and the ongoing marriage season, has added to the rush. Ajoy Chawla, CEO of the jewellery division of Tata group’s Titan, said that demand has been robust across price categories in gold jewellery and diamond-studded jewellery. “This year, we are seeing many more people in the market compared to last year. The trend has been strong over the past few months, and continues on Dhanteras,” Chawla said, adding that lack of consumption in travel, movies and even automobiles (due to supply constraints in cars) has resulted in good demand for jewellery whose wallet-share has gone up. “The wedding season is only adding to this number, and demand remains strong across the country, including the Tier 3 and Tier 4 areas,” Chawla, whose company operates 540 stores across the country, said. MMTC-PAMP India, a venture between the state-run MMTC and the Swiss-based PAMP SA, has been witnessing strong demand for its products, MD Vikas Singh said. However, he said that shortages are spoiling the party. “Gold is out of stock. Silver is out of stock.” But if shortages are somewhat of an irritant for the gold sellers, the problem is a very serious one for the car industry. The numbers give the story out: Hit hard by semiconductor crunch, Maruti has a delivery back-log of 2.5 lakh cars, Hyundai has one lakh cars pending, and even the luxury maker Mercedes-Benz has around 2,500-3,000 vehicles waiting to be delivered which is nearly equivalent to two-and-a-half to three months of its regular inventory. In the car industry, some of the dealers were wearing a forlorn look by late evening as almost all the stock was sold out – including the display cars. And while deliveries happened, the waiting period was excruciating for many as it is running into as many as six months on some models. “Many of our showrooms are almost empty. All the cars have been sold, and we don’t even have display cars,” Santosh Iyer, Head of Sales and Marketing at Mercedes-Benz India said. “We hope to deliver over 500 cars on Dhanteras, which would be almost the same as last year. We don’t have more cars to give, just when customers are there, and waiting.” Shashank Srivastava, Director (Marketing and Sales) at Maruti Suzuki, said that numbers are strong and almost at last year’s levels of around 15,500 vehicles, though they would be lower to the 2019 volumes. “It is disappointing to look at the waiting period, though we are keeping the customers informed. We are trying to increase production as much as possible, but the pending list is very long.” Tarun Garg, Director of Sales and Marketing at Hyundai India, also said that demand is strong, and the only constraint remains supply. “We hope to deliver at least 4,500 cars on Dhanteras, which is nearly three times what we would be doing on a non-festive day. The marriage season is only making things difficult for us as demand remains ever strong.” On the durables and white goods side, demand has been robust yet again, especially as large-screen televisions and premium washing machines and refrigerators have been in demand. “The market is certainly stronger when compared with last year, and we are seeing an estimated 30-35% value growth compared to Dhanteras sales of 2020. There has been a remarkable response from customers for large-screen premium televisions, especially the 55’inch and above segment,” Sunil Nayyar, MD of Sony India, said. Not only TVs, demand remains brisk even for soundbars, and headphones. Samsung retailers also reported strong business, and said that sales will be at least 20-25% higher than last Dhanteras. The strong numbers come in even though consumer prices have gone up due to increase in inputs on most of the products.