Japan Experiences Gold Rush as Investors Look to Profit on Upcoming Sales Tax Increase

In Japan, sales of gold bars are climbing in response to an upcoming rise in sales tax from 5% to 8%. Buyers are rushing to invest in gold, which will also be subject to the upcoming sales tax hike. This means that buyers could, in theory, make 3% profit on their investment by re-selling their gold after the sales increase is in effect.

Market prices have recently dropped on gold, which has given further incentive for investors. The retail price of gold dropped from 4,769 yen ($46.82) on March 14 to 4,590 yen ($45.06) earlier this week. The Japanese precious metal specialists at Tanaka Kikinzoku Jewelry say they have been seeing a big demand for gold ingots, with queues forming of customers eager to buy 500 gram ingots for about 2.3 million yen ($22,800).

Nick Mizuki, general manager of marketing at Tanaka Kikinzoku, says that business has “increased dramatically this week. There have been around 200 people a day coming to the Ginza store to buy ingots, plus around 50 people placing orders by telephone.” He adds that it’s not typically professional investors making the purchases, just people with enough money to invest in the gold. He estimates that the volume of gold ingot sales is about five times higher now than it was at the same time last year.

“The gold market has maintained its value in 2014, and I expect that it’ll continue to do so in 2015 and beyond,” explains the President of Accurate Precious Metals Refinery. “With the devaluing of the dollar on top of the increase in taxes, gold is an excellent form of hedging one’s money.”

The tax increase has caused consumers to react in a variety of ways. Some have gone on shopping sprees, while others have loaded up on big investment items — washing machines and family-sized fridges have been selling out at department stores. This will be the first consumer tax increase in 17 years, and the intent is to reduce Japan’s increasing public debt. Compared to most countries in the world, Japan currently has a rather low sales tax — many EU countries, and the UK as well, ask for 20% tax on purchases.

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