Bangladesh Shop Owners Association President Helal Uddin told Prothom Alo that their businesses surpassed expectations this Eid as they witnessed a big jump -- from 15 to 20 per cent -- in sales this year, comparing to the pre-pandemic level in 2019. To be more specific, he estimated the total Eid trade at Tk 1.70 lakh crore.
Noting that the traders were mired in losses over the last two years, he said this year’s good business would help them turn around.
Clothing rules over the Eid economy. This year, there was a little gap between the Pahela Baishakh and Eid festival and this is why the sellers have been busy for a lengthy period. Sales at all sorts of stores embarked on a rising trend at the very beginning of Holy Ramadan and reached a peak in the last two weeks.
The local clothing brands and fashion houses turned out to be the prime attraction of Eid shopping in the capital throughout the past few years. A similar scenario was found in other big cities, including Chattogram, Sylhet, Bogura, Rajshahi, Khulna, and Barishal.
There are around 6,000 fashion houses and boutique shops across the country. Aarong is at the top among the local clothing brands. Launched in 1978, the brand now operates a total of 25 outlets. It also sells products through its online platform.
When asked, Aarong Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mohammad Ashraful Alam told Prothom Alo that their sales surpassed expectations. The brand sold a total of 25 lakh pieces of clothing as of 26 April.
He also disclosed that Aarong registered a 45 per cent rise in sales this Eid, comparing to the pre-pandemic level in 2019.
Sensing the good potential of the sector, a few companies associated with the export of readymade garments have recently developed their local clothing brands and become successful to attract buyers. One of such brands is SaRa, a concern of Snowtex Group. It currently operates 8 outlets.
Contacted, SM Khaled, managing director of Snowtex Group, said their sales have been good since the beginning of holy Ramadan. The sales centers remain buzzed with shoppers until midnights, even at the eleventh hour of Eid business.
He also came up with a similar statement that their sales volume surpassed the pre-pandemic level in 2019.
Twelve Clothing, a retail brand of Team Group, opened 14 sales centers in the previous one year, which raised the number of its total outlets to 32, including that of Dhaka.
Its chief operating officer (COO), Matiur Rahman, told Prothom Alo, “We expected a big jump in business as the Eid-ul-Fitr is being celebrated in a normal situation this time after the Covid-19 pandemic. The expectation came true as our sales rose 30 to 40 per cent this year.”
Visiting the Elephant Road, Dhanmondi, Banani, Police Plaza, and Bashundhara City Shopping Complex, the shops were seen almost packed with customers all day long, except during iftar.
The crowd of customers returned to the New Market area after the heinous clash between the shopkeepers and the Dhaka College students.
The low-income people gathered at the sidewalk shops and were shopping as per their ability.
Nasir Hossain, a small footpath trader of the middle Badda area, talked to Prothom Alo around 10:30pm on Wednesday. Asked about business situation, he smiled and said, “Its good, not bad. Kids clothing worth Tk 15,000 to Tk 20,000 are selling each day.”
Shoes come after clothing in terms of demand during Eid shopping. The shoppers flock at shoe stores after buying clothes.
Shoe shops at Bashundhara City Shopping Complex and on the Elephant Road witnessed a flurry of shopping on Friday.
Officials of several shoe brands said that they have registered increased sales this year. In most of the cases, the seasonal sales targets were achieved four to five days in advance, they said.
Bata Shoe, one of the leading shoe brands, sells products through a total of 336 sale centers, including its own outlets and franchisees, across the country.
Arfanul Haque, general manager of the Bata Shoe Company Bangladesh, said they have a double digit growth rate in sales this Eid while the sales volume reached a 10-year peak.
Rise in electronic product sale
The sales of television, mobile phone, refrigerator, and air-conditioner (AC) increased marking the Eid festival. Shoppers were seen flocking to the mobile phone shops during visits to the Bashundhara Shopping Complex and Motalib Plaza.
Md Mobarak Hossain, the general manager of Electra International that sells electronics products of Samsung and Electra brands, said the sales of ACs and refrigerators increased ahead of Eid. He specifically mentioned 10 per cent growth in AC sales, comparing to 2019.
However, the TV sales did not gain momentum like that of previous years, he added.
Plunge in furniture business
The furniture brands offer discounts ahead of Eid, which attracts the customers and eventually boosts up the sales volume.
But a number of furniture traders said the sales did not increase this year to the expected level, comparing to the growth rate of clothing, shoe and electronic products.
Selim H Rahman, the chairman of Bangladesh Furniture Industries Owners Association (BFIOA), said, “Eid is going to be celebrated in a normal situation after two years, but the furniture sales did not increase like that of previous years. It seems that the consumers are still busy buying clothes. We are optimistic that the furniture will sell well two or three days before Eid.”
Tourism industry gains pace
Hotels, motels, resorts and tour operators have had a terrible time during the first year of Covid-19 pandemic. They have done moderate business in the following year, but failed to make up the losses completely.
Now, they expect that this would be a turnaround year for the local tourism sector.
Md Rafeuzzaman, the president of Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh, said they expect around 10 lakh tourists to visit different tourist destinations in the country during the Eid season.
The destinations for most of the local tourists would be Cox's Bazar, St. Martin's, Kuakata, the Sundarbans and Sylhet, he said.
The upper class people usually take pleasure trips outside the country, but a section of them would choose local resorts this year, due to different restrictions on foreign trips, he said, adding that most of the outbound tourists will choose India.
“The local resorts witnessed a good number of bookings. The country's tourism sector will get a new lease on life during this Eid,” said Md Rafeuzzaman.
Meanwhile, Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director at the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said, “In our country, the large portion of festival-centric business is dependent on the domestic market. Most small traders fail to secure loans from banks and thereby finance their businesses of their own. Thanks to the good business ahead of Eid, the small traders will get means to turn around.”
He also said, “The actual income of low-income people declined due to high inflation. This is why they could not participate in the Eid festival in the full swing.”
The economy could have been boosted had the low-income people fully participated in the Eid festival, he added.