Traders in wedding goods in Bangladesh have been having a hard time because of a slump in their business due to decline in weddings amid Covid-19 related restrictions.
The traders have said that sales have dropped by almost 80% as people are buying fewer goods than before since wedding ceremonies are carried out on a small scale domestically instead of the usual lavish arrangements in community centres or Chinese restaurants.
At the shops on Elephant Road – the largest wedding materials hub in the country – businessmen are spending time in idleness. They complain that the lockdown is proceeding on a nominal scale, but wedding ceremonies are under a ban and community centres remain shut.
On both sides of the road from Kataban intersection to Bata Signal intersection on Elephant Road, 63 shops, including 20 wholesale ones, sell items used in wedding and bridal reception ceremonies, such as sherwani, turban, punjabi, pyjamas, nagra, topor, bridal sari, jewellery, turmeric baskets, decorated winnowing fans, etc. Besides, wedding saris and cosmetics are sold in several shopping malls in the capital.
AHM Mujibul Alam Rony, owner of Shanai, told The Business Standard that his daily sales used to be around Tk80,000 before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, but his earnings are at most Tk12,000 at present. On one hand, fewer customers come to the shop and, on the other hand, they look for low-priced products.
Md Delwar Hossain, a shopkeeper of the store Palki, told TBS, "Our sales have dropped by 80%. If wedding ceremonies are banned, why would people buy wedding items?"
Many traders have said that they worry if they will be able to carry on with this business through recouping the losses incurred during the 14-month closure.
Shopkeepers said that during large-scale ceremonies in the past, besides the bridegroom, his friends and families used to buy sherwani and other items. At present, a family buys only one or two baskets but they used to buy 15-20 baskets before the pandemic.
Nazma Khatun, who came to buy wedding items, told TBS that now weddings are being solemnised on a limited scale in domestic settings and so people are not spending too much.
The price of each sherwani varies from Tk5,000-Tk60,000, turban Tk600-5,500, nagra Tk400-2,500, small coat Tk2,000-Tk5,500, punjabi Tk1,500-6,000 and a set of baskets from Tk500-4,000. Wholesale prices amount to 20-40% less than retail prices.
Sherwani and turbans are also had on rent. Depending on the quality of fabric and design, the rent of a sherwani ranges from Tk1,500 to Tk9,000.
Zubaidal Hasan Sunny, manager of Chabighar, told TBS that the rent is a little higher when someone takes a dress outside Dhaka. Clothes taken on rent have to be returned within seven to 10 days. For renting a sherwani and turban, a customer has to deposit an extra amount.
He added that the number of wholesalers from different parts of the country has also declined and wholesales have dropped to almost zero.