Md Fazlur Rahman and Suman Saha
Buoyed by the calm on the political front, traders, boutique houses and footwear makers this year are holding out for bumper sales on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr.
“People are now in a shopping mood due to the favourable political environment,” said Mohammad Abdur Rouf, chief operating officer of Aarong, a leading fashion and lifestyle brand in the country.
Retailers hope sales will pick up in the coming days as people with a fixed income now have money in their hands to make their Eid purchase.
“Sales were not at the desired level in the first 10 days of Ramadan. We know everybody will buy as per their plans in the end,” said SK Rasel, manager of Deshal, a well-known boutique.
Keeping the timing of Eid-ul-Fitr this year, Deshal, which has nine outlets in the country, has embraced the colours of the rainy season.
Salespersons at Artisti, a popular menswear brand, too said shoppers have slowly started to flock in.
“We are now getting good response from customers,” said Soumik Das, managing partner of Rang, another leading fashion house, adding that the company registered good sales in each of its 11 outlets in Dhaka last Friday.
The revenues in the run-up to the biggest shopping season alone easily outnumber the receipts from other months, as the majority of the population buys at least one apparel item.
At present, the country has around 4,500 fashion houses that sell locally produced attires with a yearly turnover of Tk 6,000 crore, according to the Fashion Entrepreneurs Association of Bangladesh that represents more than 50 fashion houses.
Das, also the treasurer of the association, said clothing retailers generally log in 50 percent of their annual turnover during Ramadan and 25 percent during Pahela Baishakh.
For instance, Tangail Saree Kutir, a fashion house at the capital's Bailey Road, which usually logs in Tk 1.5 lakh to Tk 2 lakh in sales a day, averages Tk 6 lakh a day during Ramadan, according to Jasim Uddin, its manager.
Mohammad Manik, branch manager of Menz Club, a menswear brand, echoed Uddin, saying Eid sales are normally three to four times higher than in a normal month.
“We just sustain our business throughout the year on hopes that we will have huge sales during Ramadan,” said SK Rasel, manager of Deshal, a well-known boutique.
To make the most of the shopping frenzy, stores have now extended their business hours for Ramadan.
Jasim Uddin says his store closes its doors at 8pm on a normal day, but during Ramadan it will remain open as long as the customers are there.
Meanwhile, the tailors, too, are expecting a hectic Ramadan this year.
“We are expecting a good Eid for the tailoring shops as the current political situation is comparatively better than in the previous year,” said Mintu Miah, general manager of Sunmoon Tailors that has 10 outlets across the country.
At present, there are 35,000 tailoring stores across the country that earn nearly Tk 1,000 crore a year, said Abul Kalam Azad, president of the Bangladesh Dress Makers' Association.