Owners of local fashion brands and retail garment shops are apprehending huge losses as fresh lockdown will disrupt their sales during the upcoming festivals of Bangla New Year and Eid-ul-Fitr.
All through the year, fashion brands and retail garment traders eagerly wait for these festivals as the country's economy thrives centring these two religious and cultural festivals. This year, local fashion brands and retailers are in fear of incurring huge losses due to the fresh lockdown scheduled to be imposed from tomorrow.
According to local traders, on Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bengali calendar, about Tk20,000 crore is transacted on average every year while during Eid-ul-Fitr the transacted amount is several times more. About 70% of the local clothes including saree, lungi, pants and shirts are sold during these two festivals while the rest 20% is sold during the rest of the year.
Traders apprehended that if they incur large amounts of losses this year also like the previous year, hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs will be out of business for good.
Bangladesh Textile Mills Association Secretary Monsoor Ahmed said garments worth at least Tk30,000 crore are sold in the local market during the two festivals of New Year and Eid-ul-Fitr.
"Last year, traders could not make any profit at all during these two biggest festivals of the country as most of the factories were closed due to the lockdown imposed by the government in a bid to stem the spread of virus," he said, adding, "We cannot say what is in store for us, what will happen in the near future if we incur losses like the previous year."
Muktar Dewan, owner of Golenur Garments, sells his factory's jeans pants at wholesale prices in front of Keraniganj Zilla Parishad Market.
After producing clothes worth Tk3 crore targeting Eid and Pahela Boishakh last year, he managed to sell clothes worth Tk50 crore only.
Muktar was hoping to make up his last year's loss from this year's profit, managing a handsome capital to produce clothes targeting the upcoming two festivals scheduled in mid-Aril and mid-May contry from Monday has shattered hid ur lockdown across the ay. Bud Saturday's sudden declaration of another countrywide lockdown from Monday has shattered his dream into pieces.
Describing his present situation, he told The Business Standard, "Against all odds, I succeeded proving the employees' salaries besides maintaining my family during the first year of pandemic, that is from March 2020 to March 2021. Although I produced some garments throughout this whole year, I could not sell them. Now it is not possible to pay the shop and showroom rents, not to mention the repayment of bank loan, even if I want to close the business.
Like Moktar Dewan, about 10,000 directly or indirectly involved persons living on RMG sector are at a lost over what to do to run their families during the suddenly imposed lockdown.
Manik Chan, the proprietor of Maria Batik House in Narayanganj, is now in fear of losing his livelihood and property after the Pahela Boishakh programmes were cancelled due to lockdown. Despite the target of selling Tk10 lakh products, he has sold about Tk2 lakh so far. Now the entrepreneur is worried about bank loans, workers' salaries, factory rent and his family.
He told The Business Standard, "The design of clothes made for Baishakh cannot be sold at any other time of the year. The colour and design of the Baisakhi dresses are different totally. I don't know what my future will be without any special help. "
The situation of more or less 8,000 to 10,000 entrepreneurs of Araihajar thana of Narayanganj is similar to that of Maria Batik House. About 50,000 workers work in the small factories and shops of these entrepreneurs.
Like Keraniganj and Narayanganj, situation in the country's local garment production hubs – including Babubazar of Narsingdi, Gauchia of Narayanganj, Bhairab of Kishoreganj, Islampur of Dhaka, Tangail and Sirajganj – are in dire straits also.
Out of fear of losing capital, they are demanding to be allowed to open their clothing stores to a limited extent during new lockdown.
Shahin Ahmed, president of the Bangladesh Fashion Designers Association and owner of Anjans Showroom, thinks that the fashion houses will lose Tk6,000-7,000 crore if the Pahela Baishakh and Eid-ul-Fitr festivals are held like last year.
He said, "On the occasion of Pahela Boishakh, this year, our target is to sell products worth Tk3,000 crore. All preparations were taken.
More than five lakh people including employees and workers of factories, showrooms, goods suppliers, weavers and tailors are involved in this sector. 80% of them are women.
On the other hand, the chairman of the country's ShadaKalo fashion brand, Azharul Haque Azad said, "If trading is closed before Pahela Baisakh, we will incur a Tk500 crore loss.