Local sports goods markets are now excited about the upcoming FIFA World Cup, scheduled to kick off in Qatar on 20 November, in defiance of all odds – mounting inflationary pressure, unstable dollar prices and global economic slowdown.
Football lovers have started window-shopping to have their jerseys and other sports accessories so that they can show strong support towards their hot favourites. With the early rush, traders are looking to a great sale of at least Tk1,000 crore within the next one and a half months.
"We have 250 registered members and at least 50 of them have already imported [sports] goods worth Tk10-15 crore each ahead of the World Cup. Apart from this, jerseys and sports goods worth about Tk100 crore have been produced locally," said MR Shamim, president of the Bangladesh Sports Goods Merchants, Manufacturers and Importers Association.
"Hence, we hope we will have sales of Tk900-1,000 crore on this occasion," he told The Business Standard.
"We have been importing goods keeping in view the World Cup since last June and about 50 lakh jerseys and about one lakh footballs have so far been sourced from China, Pakistan and India," Md Habibur Rahman, general secretary of the organisation, added.
He told TBS that another lot of 10 lakh jerseys and 50,000 footballs have been pending for import due mainly to the ongoing dollar crisis.
According to the Bangladesh Sports Goods Merchants, Manufacturers and Importers Association, the annual turnover of the country's sports markets is around Tk1,500 crore, with an average growth rate of 10-15%. Local manufacturers supply around 40% of the goods while the lion's share comes from foreign sources.
Centering the Qatar World Cup, local manufacturers have produced around 40 lakh jerseys and 50 lakh flags of different countries participating in the Cup, the association said.
Talking to The Business Standard, traders from all over the country said they have been witnessing surprising sales of sports goods for the FIFA World Cup.
In Chattogram, the biggest sports goods hub – MA Aziz Stadium Market – has been crowded with visitors, customers and retail traders sourcing their goods since the end of last month. Traders said the jerseys of Argentina and Brazil are the most sold items there while those of Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, England, the Netherlands and Croatia are also in good demand.
Labanya and Sajid, students of a private university, went to buy jerseys at the market last Sunday. "Sajid's choice is Argentina and I love Brazil. We bought jerseys of our favourite team. I also took them for my family," Labanya told TBS.
Several other customers said they are more excited about the upcoming World Cup than other times as this one is the last for popular players Messi and Ronaldo.
This edition of the FIFA World Cup will take place in Asia, which is another reason behind their craze for the game, they added.
Traders said people's increased interest in the FIFA World Cup is an ultimate boon for their sales. "Two weeks ago, I brought jerseys worth Tk2.5 lakh. All are sold out. Now, I am going to Dhaka again to bring new ones," Cumilla's Cantonment Market-based trader Mohammad Nazrul Islam said while talking to The Business Standard over the phone yesterday.
"Business is getting better this time," he expressed his happiness.
"After jerseys, the most demanding product is football itself," the capital's largest sports market Twin Tower-based retailer SM Sirajudaula said and added that various quality replicas of the World Cup's official ball "Al Rihla" are available in the market, under the name "Qatar Football", at Tk680-1400 per piece.
"Apart from footballs and jerseys, we are selling souvenirs like key rings, wristbands and so on, which are designed according to the theme of different teams."
The 22nd edition of the Football World Cup will be held at the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar and continue until 18 December.