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Milk, Bread … Gold Bar: Bullion Goes Retail

Stuck for what to get your loved ones for Christmas? Well if you stop by London's glitzy Harrods store, you could get some gold bullion to put in the stocking.

Harrods, which fills an entire block in the capital's upmarket Knightsbridge area, started selling gold bullion and coins over the counter for the first time Thursday. Strong demand from private investors has prompted the move, according to a Harrods spokesperson.

"The financial environment has kindled a new demand for physical gold among private investors in Britain. For many people this is a new and unfamiliar asset class that demands absolute trust," Chris Hall, head of Harrods Gold Bullion, said in a statement. "Harrods saw the opportunity to help individuals buy physical gold in a prudent manner."

Many private investors have seen their wealth eroded by the financial crisis and have lost trust in more common assets classes like property and stocks.

"We offer at 'market-linked prices,' a full range of Swiss investment grade 999.9 fine gold bars that meet international 'good delivery' standards," Harrods said on its Web site.

As well as selling, Harrods is also offering to buy the gold back from its customers - subject to current market prices, of course.

The price of gold has surged over recent weeks to touch record highs above $1,070 per Troy ounce. Sharp declines in the dollar, coupled with underlying inflation fears, have driven investors to the precious metal.

Physical gold could seem to be the ultimate safe haven, but some analysts have warned that its price may be far from stable.

The recent surge in the price of gold could "collapse" and quickly move back toward the $1,000 mark as it has not confirmed its upward trend yet, Daryl Guppy, CEO of Guppytraders.com, told CNBC.

"There's a possibility that this rally is going to collapse relatively quickly and take us back and retest the $1,000-1,020 (per Troy ounce) level," Guppy said.

Harrods owner Mohamed Fayed teamed up with Swiss refiner Produits Artistiques Métaux Précieux (PAMP) to bring the gold to its customers.

"Harrods stock our full range and are now the only location in London where investors can purchase a 12.5kg gold bar 'off the shelf'," Mehdi Bakhordar, managing director of PAMP, said in the statement.

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