The year 2020 was a nightmare for furniture traders due to the pandemic. Businesses in most sectors reopened after an almost three-month lockdown that started in March was over, but people did not shop much, except for essentials.
Even though big showrooms reopened, traders could not bear operation costs. Almost all furniture traders had to count losses.
We have been trying to turn around for the past two months. High-priced furniture manufacturers are doing a bit better as procurements for different government projects have begun. Many such traders experienced growth as well. However, sales of furniture that ordinary people buy have not recovered yet.
Lower slab furniture sales are still less than 60%. Because of some programmes, including weddings, medium range furniture sales have recovered by about 80% compared to the normal time. We do not think the situation will return to normalcy before 2022.
The global coronavirus situation has not become normal yet. All countries are afraid of the second wave. People in Bangladesh have returned to a somewhat normal situation, but no one is shopping, except for essentials.
Consumers are reducing spending as they are uncertain about where the economy is heading to. Raw material prices have gone up due to problems in the global supply chain caused by the pandemic.
Producers do not have easy access to raw materials. No one could plan for the new year as 2021 started in such a situation. At the moment, we are just planning to return to normal production. Retaining jobs is also a challenge for us.
Selim H Rahman, managing director of Hatil Furniture.