As winter has set in, Khondoker Mozammel came to Calcutta Dry Cleaners at Dhanmondi to get his warm clothes cleaned. Due to Covid-19, he had not come to his favourite laundry service provider for a long time.
However, the Dhanmondi branch in-charge of the laundry shop informed Mozammel that from now on he did not need to come to the shop physically. The shop has launched an online service. If any customer knocks the shop online, it will provide the customer with home delivery service.
Emdadul Haque Masum, the branch in-charge, told The Business Standard they had started online services to recover the losses caused by the novel coronavirus crisis.
However, the situation was getting better gradually, he said.
Masum said now they earn Tk10,000 per day whereas it reduced to below Tk5,000 after the general holidays, declared due to the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, they earned Tk20,000 per day on average.
The reputed laundry shops Calcutta Dry Cleaners, Band Box and Mohammadi Dry Cleaners have started online services while Top Clean, Best Clean, US Dry Cleaning, and Modina Dry Cleaners are now offering customers home delivery services.
However, the business is witnessing gradual improvement with the arrival of winter, according to the renowned shops and some online-based laundry service providers such as Hello Laundry, Laundry Bari, Washbd, and Washout.
Babul, general manager of Mohammadi Dry Cleaners, said before the pandemic, each of the branches of Mohammadi got around 200-230 clothes per day for washing. It decreased to 100 towards June. Later, when the situation improved and people started to go to offices, the number started to increase.
Now each of the branches get 150-170 clothes per day, Babul said.
Nurul Islam Hiron, general manager of Washbd, echoing the same, said before the pandemic, they got around 400 clothes per day. When they started the shop again after the general holidays, their business reduced to 30%.
Now it has increased to 60%.
"We have got some new customers. We think these new customers have become interested in our service due to Covid-19," said Hiron.
Online platform Seba.xyz works with more than 100 small laundry shops in Dhaka city.
Ilmul Haque Sajib, co-founder and chief operation officer of Seba.xyz, said before the novel coronavirus pandemic, they got more than 500 orders per day. But during the general holidays, they had to stop operating their business. When they reopened the services after the general holidays, the number of orders reduced by 60%.
Gradually, it has improved, and now the business is 70% of the business they did in normal times.
The small laundry shops in different areas of the city have also faced the same situation.
Nazrul Islam, owner of Jony Dry Cleaners in Pallabi, has been doing this business for 16 years.
He said, "I had to borrow money to pay the rent of my shop during the general holidays. Though the number of customers is still not very good, the situation is getting better gradually. However, I have to launch a small grocery shop alongside the laundry business."
There is no organisation or platform of laundry shop owners in the country. So there are no statistics regarding the total number of laundry shops across the country or even in Dhaka city.
Sales of washing machines rise
The sale of washing machines has increased due to Covid-19. During the beginning of the pandemic, most of the people did not go to laundry shops. Many people gave leaves to domestic helpers. That is why the demand for washing machines increased. Many electronics shops ran out of stock.
The demand for washing machines is higher than in normal times.
Mohammad Mesbah Uddin, chief marketing officer of Fair Group, said, "Still the demand for washing machines is high. Before Covid-19, we sold around 2,000 machines per month. Now we sell around 3,000 per month."