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Global Q1 gold demand down 23% year on year (WGC)

By WGC: Q1 saw gold demand of 815.7t

Strengthening consumer demand mitigated the impact of ETF outflows as global economies continued to recover

Q1 gold demand (excluding OTC) was 815.7t, virtually on a par with Q4 2020, but down 23% compared with Q1 2020. 

While the average gold price in Q1 was 13% higher y-o-y, it declined by 4% q-o-q.1 The opportunity to buy at lower prices, relative to the highs seen last year, boosted consumer demand, particularly as many markets continued to emerge from lockdown and economic recovery lifted sentiment. 

Jewellery demand of 477.4t was 52% higher y-o-y . The value of jewellery spending – US$27.5 billion (bn) – was the highest for a first quarter since Q1 2013.

Bar and coin investment of 339.5t (+36% y-o-y) was buoyed by bargain-hunting, as well as by expectations of building inflationary pressures. 

Growth in consumer demand was offset by strong outflows from gold-backed ETFs (gold ETFs), which lost 177.9 in Q1 as higher interest rates and a downward price trend weighed on investor sentiment. 

Q1 saw continued healthy levels of net buying by central banks: global official gold reserves grew by 95.5t, 23% lower y-o-y, but 20% higher q-o-q. 

Gold used in technology grew 11% y-o-y in Q1 as consumer confidence continued to recover. Demand of 81.2t was just above the five-year quarterly average of 80.9t.


The 23% y-o-y decline was due to strong outflows from global gold ETFs in Q1 and reduced levels of net buying by central banks.


Western outflows outweighed Asian inflows as ETF investors both responded and contributed to gold’s performance, driven by higher rates and a stronger dollar.


This was up 52% y-o-y – a strong improvement compared with lockdown-stricken Q1 2020.

Gold demand held steady despite ETF outflows

Quarterly demand by sector

TonnesDownloadJewelleryTotal bar and coin demandTechnologyCentral banks & other inst.ETFs and similar products- - Consumer demand (border)Q1'20Q2'20Q3'20Q4'20Q1'21-400-20002004006008001,0001,200

Sources: Metals Focus, World Gold Council; Disclaimer


Global gold ETF holdings fell by 177.9t (US$9.5bn). Western markets drove outflows as US rates rose sharply and the US dollar strengthened. 

The US dollar gold price fell by 10% during Q1. The recent downward trend was fuelled in part by ETF outflows and a reduction in net long positioning in the futures market, but strong consumer demand helped to provide support. 

Demand for gold bars and coins saw a third successive quarter of growth. Investment in these products reached 339.5t – the highest quarter since Q4 2016. 

Jewellery demand staged a strong recovery from lockdown-stricken Q1 2020. But it remained relatively subdued on a historic basis – 6% below the five-year quarterly average of 505.9t.

Global central bank gold reserves grew 95.5t in Q1. Hungary’s large purchase (+63t) bolstered Q1 buying, more than matching Turkey’s substantial sale (31.5t).

Total supply of gold fell 4% y-o-y in Q1. Mine production growth ws outweighed by a fall in recycling, largely in response to weaker gold prices.

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