Chinese buying gold

Chinese dig deep to join the gold rush
China is hardly the only culture to prize gold. But the council, which is funded by mining companies, has spotted something distinctive about its consumers. In India, Turkey and the Middle East, buyers have been deterred by the soaring cost of the metal. In China, however, it noted in a recent report, "the rising gold price is seen as a positive factor – consumers like to buy into a rising price".

That is why, even on a weekday morning, the shop floor at Caibai is rammed. On busy days, 10,000 people pass through its doors. This store is to gold what Marks & Spencer is to underwear in Britain: not the most glamorous source, nor the cheapest, but the tried and trusted favourite. In 2008, the company sold gold worth 3.5bn yuan (£316m). In the first 11 months of 2009, it sold 4.1bn yuan, and the lead up to the Chinese new year – which falls next month – is always a busy period.

Customers are picking over delicately wrought earrings and gazing covetously at huge, embellished collars. Increasing prosperity is enabling middle-class consumers to treat themselves; Liu Hongxia, leaving the store with a newly acquired bangle, recalls splashing her first pay packet on a ring for herself and earrings for her mother. No wonder she feels nostalgic – that was more than a decade ago. "Now the price is three times higher," she said ruefully.
No mention of what price the Chinese shoppers are paying for gold. I recall there being a considerable (double-digit) premium on gold bullion at the shops in China, whereas its possible to buy at low single-digit markups in the U.S.

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