Local fashion businesses, which lost out on consecutive festival sales in the last two years owing to pandemic-led closures, are now witnessing a significant increase in customer walk-ins ahead of this year's Eid-ul-Fitr.
Take Aarong outlet at Bashundhara Shopping Complex, for example – it on Friday pulled in a large throng of shoppers who even had to wait more than half an hour to pay bills at counters.
While talking to The Business Standard, Anisur Rahman from Jatrabari said he bought clothes worth Tk8,700 for children from Aarong, but he had to wait 45 minutes in the queue to pay the bill.
"I have never experienced so many people shopping at a time," he said.
Not only Arang, all other brand shops, including Ecstasy, Infinity, Apex, and Bata, are witnessing a significant jump in sales
Businesses say a good number of buyers have been thronging their shops even before the onset of Ramadan this year.
Shoppers, who could not buy clothes, shoes and jewellery in the last two years because of Covid-led income erosion, are also flocking to shopping malls, they add.
The annual local fashion market size amounts to Tk30,000 crore - Pahela Baishakh, Eid sales account for 75% of it, they note, adding that but their festival sales in the last two years less than halved.
Shaheen Ahmed, president at Fashion Entrepreneurs Association of Bangladesh and owner of fashion house Anjans, told TBS that local fashion houses suffered Covid-led losses in festival sales amounting to Tk10,000 in the last two years.
"We are now having a good time in terms of sales. The current trend suggests we will not count any losses this time," he said.
Pahela Baishakh-centric sales were a bit lower than expected as the first day of Bangla calendar fell in the middle of the month of Ramadan. Eid sales have begun to perk up.
"Hopefully, our sales will be much more than what we usually see," he added
While visiting clothing, cosmetics and shoe shops at Mouchak, Gaussia, New Market and Bashundhara Shopping Complex in the capital, TBS correspondents saw a huge crowd of shoppers.
But the Eid shopping in other cities of the country has not yet got a full momentum, as our local correspondents said.
Sihab Hossain, supervisor at Bashundhara City shopping mall's Aarong outlet, told TBS that Eid shopping has returned to the pre-pandemic level.
Touhidul Islam, a buyer from the capital's Baridhara area, came with his family to shop at Bashundhara Shopping Complex on Friday afternoon.
Some 15 shopping bags full of clothes were found in his hands. "I could not buy clothes for many relatives in the last two years. This time, I bought it for everyone."
Jahangir Alam, a vendor at Emon Fabrics Store in Mouchak Market, said they are more than happy with this year's sales as there are now no Covid-restrictions.
Twelve Life Style Chief Operating Officer Motiur Rahman told TBS, "Our sales ahead of Pahela Baishakh were the highest in the last three years. We are expecting 40% sales growth with better sales ahead of this Eid."
Leading fashion brands dangle big collections to offset losses
Entrepreneurs of various fashion houses prepare for Pahela Baishakh and Eid throughout the year. Deshi Dosh, Yellow, Sailor, Gentle Park, Apex, Bata, Infinity and other local fashion houses have a large share of sales during the two mega festivals.
They are all set with their different types of fashionable items to cater to demand of customers and thus recoup losses they suffered in the last two years.
Kay Kraft, a leading retailer of fashion wear and fashion accessories in the country, has 25 showrooms across the country, which are now full of Eid collections. The fashion brand has come up with at least 500 designs of clothes on the occasion of Eid.
Shahjahan Firoz, Bashundhara branch manager of Kay Kraft, told TBS that this time their collection is more than ever.
Hadi Chowdhury, head of Retail Operations at Yellow, said, "This time we are expecting higher sales. We have a wider range of collections than ever."
Monirul Haque Parvez, head of another local brand Rang Bangladesh's Elephant Road branch, said, "We have come up with new clothes of at least 700-750 items on the occasion of Eid and New Year."
Tanvir Hossain, a deputy general manager for marketing at Brac Aarong told TBS that over 40% of their annual turnover of around Tk1000 crore comes during Bengali New Year and Eid-ul-Fitr.
"We are well prepared for this time. Our sales so far are good enough," Tanvir added.
Weavers hope to make up for lost sales
Md Bachchu Mia, a weaver engaged in batik production and marketing in Narayanganj's Araihazar for two decades, suffered a loss after having invested around Tk15 lakh ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr in 2020. Similarly in 2021, he sustained another loss. This year, he took out a bank loan and invested again in producing Batik items and witnessed excellent sales.
"I have invested Tk10 lakh for the first time by taking a bank loan and borrowing from others. I have re-invested that money by selling all early products. There is also a huge demand," he told TBS.
All 8,000-10,000 Batik weavers in the region are now passing a green patch with very good sales.
Besides, producers along Buriganga riverbanks, including Keraniganj in Dhaka, supply 70%-80% of the local clothing sold across the country. Some 70% of garments produced by traders of Keraniganj, known as the hub for making clothing for lower- and middle-class people, are sold on Eid-ul-Fitr.
Muktar Dewan, owner of Golenur Garments, sells his factory's jeans wholesale at Keraniganj Zila Parishad Market. Jeans worth Tk2.5 crore were sold on Eid-ul-Fitr 2019, but last year it did not exceed Tk50 lakh. This time, he expects to sell more than Tk3 crore worth of different dresses.
Moktar Dewan told TBS, "Retailers from different parts of the country are coming here to buy clothes. So far this year, clothes worth Tk2 crore have been sold. The sales volume will surpass Tk3 crore till the day 20 of Ramadan."
A mixed bag of sales outside Dhaka
The Eid market has started to get momentum in Sylhet. Crowds throng shopping malls and fashion houses until midnight. But traders say there are now more visitors than buyers.
Ashraful Islam, owner of Ananya Fashion at City Heart Shopping Mall in Sylhet, said shoppers have started coming to the market. But it will take a few more days for sales to pick up.
Abdur Rahman Ripon, president at Sylhet City Businessmen's Association, said Eid market in Sylhet is largely dependent on expatriates. The flow of remittances is also good. So, hopefully this time there will be good business.
There are more than 300 fashion houses in Comilla Eastern Plaza. Manjurul Alam, general secretary at Shop Owners' Association, said sales in all stores have increased more than before. On the occasion of Eid, they are expecting sales amounting to more than Tk100 crore in this market.
Jaleswaritala in Bogra is considered as an elite shopping area. All famous clothing brands are available in this area.
Habib, manager of Foring Garments, said there is a huge demand for Punjabi this Eid. But expensive Punjabi is being sold less.
Sadequl Islam Oni, a seller of New Butterfly Collection at Saheb Bazar Zero-point in Rajshahi, said their sales have been improving since Friday.
Owing to the rise in commodity prices, sales have not picked up yet. After receiving salary and bonus, maybe sales will go up, he added.
Saiful Islam, owner of Sohag Bastra Bitan in Hasan Market, said, "Our buyers are basically villagers. Now, it is paddy harvesting season. As a result, they have not yet come for shopping."
On Saturday, Kapuriapatti of Jashore, HMM Road, Mujib Road, Collectorate Mosque Market, and Municipal Hawkers Market were found gaining momentum for Eid sales. Tailors now have no time to catch their breath.
However, shopping malls have not yet started getting expected footfalls of customers.
Sujan, a shopkeeper at City Plaza Shopping Complex, said, "Our sales have not perked up yet."
"My daily sales now amount to Tk20,000-Tk30,000, which will go up after 20 days of Ramadan," he added.