Business owners and economists expect this year's Valentine's Day is going to be a big boon as festivities have remained suspended for almost a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
They estimate that businesses will see transactions of over Tk2,000 crore, mostly from the sales of clothes, flowers, chocolates, cakes, jewellery, gadgets and other gift items. Hotel and resort owners are also eyeing big business.
This will help reinvigorate the business sector in general, the owners say.
Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of the Policy Research Institute, said shopping was booming in the country as elsewhere in the world.
Digital payment companies, businesses and star-rated hotels had announced various offers and people were rushing to acquire them, he said.
"But this is not due to Valentine's Day and spring only. People are buying as several other festivals are coming up," he added.
Clothes, footwear brands offer wide collections
Despite the year-long slowdown in 2020 due to the pandemic, almost all manufacturers of local clothing, footwear and leather goods are offering new collections ahead of spring and Valentine's Day.
Apex, the largest shoe brand in the country, has launched more than 100 new items. Its officials said sales had exceeded targets till 11 February.
Shamim Sheikh, senior store manager at Apex's largest outlet in the capital's Bashundhara City mall, said there were more collections this spring than ever before and sales had also been quite good so far.
He said the present sales figures were the highest since the pandemic struck but had not exceeded those of last year.
Bata, Jennys, Bay, Lotto and other shoe brands have brought new products to the market as well. Expectations from officials of these companies show overall sales will reach at least Tk500 crore this spring.
On the first day of spring and on Valentine's Day, men, women and children dress in a variety of garments, particularly red, orange and yellow salwar suits, panjabis and sarees. Deshi Dosh is among the top local sellers of these items. The 25 showrooms of its leading brand Kay Kraft across the country are mainly selling such clothes now.
Shahjahan Firoz, Bashundhara branch manager of Kay Kraft, told The Business Standard that the firm was offering the highest varieties this time, but sales were a bit lower than before.
Yet daily sales on average topped Tk1 lakh, he said.
Monirul Haque Parvez, head of the Bashundhara branch of another leading clothing brand, Rang Bangladesh, said the company was offering wider collections this spring than in previous years as business had declined precipitously during festivals last year.
He said clothes worth at least Tk20 lakh would be sold between 1-15 February although sales were a bit low now.
Sailor, a big brand in men's clothing, is offering more than 100 new designs this spring. Ataur Rahman, in-charge of its Bashundhara outlet, said average daily sales had reached Tk1.5 lakh.
He also said sales were better than last year as there were more varieties.
Shahin Ahmed, senior vice-president of Fashion Entrepreneurs' Association of Bangladesh, said the market size of local brand clothes was at least Tk10,000 crore and there were 6,000 entrepreneurs.
He said sales hit Tk500-600 crore on the occasions of spring and Valentine's Day.
"Local garment manufacturers are expecting more sales this year," added Shahin, who is also the chief executive of Anjans.
Jewellers eye bonanza
Jewellery companies are expecting sales to the tune of Tk500 crore as people prefer gifting these items in spring and on Valentine's Day.
Diamond World, the country's largest jewellery brand, announced a 27% discount on all products on 1 February – for both online and brick-and-mortar customers.
There were big crowds of buyers at the company's Gulshan outlet on 10 February. Dilip Kumar Agarwala, managing director of Diamond World, told The Business Standard at the shop that the discount had generated a good response and sales were quite good.
Meanwhile, Amin Jewellers has offered a 32% discount, Gems World 40%, Gitanjali 35%, New Haven 50%, Shanghai Gold 36%, Alif Jewellers and Diamond 35% and Fiore Diamond 25%.
Ingold has launched a "buy one, get one free" offer.
Pandemic to affect flower sales
Flowers are in great demand on Valentine's Day. Abdur Rahim, president of Bangladesh Flowers Society, said the demand for roses on Valentine's Day this year was at least to the tune of 50 lakh.
He said flowers worth Tk200 crore were sold on Valentine's Day and Pahela Falgun – the first day of spring – last year, but the figure would drop to Tk180-190 crore this time because of Covid-19.
Our Jashore correspondent said flowers worth around Tk20 crore had been sold in Gadkhali area of Jhikargacha alone ahead of Valentine's Day.
Shahidul Islam of Anindya Pushpani in the capital's Shahbagh said all traders had already ordered roses, flowers which characterise spring and Valentine's Day festivities.
But the current school closure might affect sales, he added.
Cards and gifts
Red heart toys, dolls, gift bags and boxes, showpieces and perfumes are popular Valentine's Day presents. Businesses say card and gift item sales usually exceed around Tk100 crore centering on this day.
Sharifuddin Iqbal, owner of Archies Gallery in Hatirpool, said the pandemic would not stop people from expressing their sentiments on love.
He said business was not dull but would have been better if the situation were normal, adding that he had stocked products worth Tk6 lakh ahead of Valentine's Day.
E-commerce companies offer big discounts
Dhamaka has offered up to 70% discounts on all kinds of products ranging from jewellery to fashion to home decor. Its officials said they had received orders for about one lakh products in 15 days.
Almost all e-commerce companies, including Evaly, Daraz and Alesha Mart, are offering discounts of up to 10-50%.
AK Rahat Ahmed, director and chief marketing officer of Paperfly, said online shopping saw a boost due to the pandemic but decreased a little in January.
"However, it increased again on the occasion of Valentine's Day. We are getting 10-15% more e-commerce product delivery orders," he added.
Hotels, resorts announce lucrative offers
InterContinental Dhaka, reputed as the largest hotel in the country, has announced great offers after a year of sluggish business in 2020.
Throughout this month, it has been organising candlelight dinners with live music under the open sky. It also has special offers for rooms.
It has offered a 25% discount on all services from 11-28 February for spring. Moreover, there is a special buffet dinner offer for couples, including some other services, on Valentine's Day which will cost Tk11,499.
Radisson Blu Dhaka is offering Valentine's love bites and a heart crusher party.
Discounts and big events are available at all star-rated hotels, including Pan Pacific Sonargaon, Dhaka Regency, Westin, Hotel Sarina and Le Meridien.
Sadman Salahuddin, assistant director (marketing and communication) at The Westin Dhaka, said the hotel was arranging Valentine's Day feasts in three of their five restaurants.
He said there were special discounts on rooms and the booking rate was also quite good.
Hansa, an international standard residence in Uttara, has organised Valentine's Day Fest 2021. There is a "buy one, get one free" offer that includes buffet dinner, special room booking and other arrangements.
Royal Tulip in Cox's Bazar is offering day-long tours for Tk2,000 and up to 50% discounts on room services.There are special and full-board package offers as well.
Wasikur Rabbi, senior duty manager of the hotel, said its February occupancy rate was over 90% on the occasion of Valentine's Day and spring.