Md Nahian and Abdullah Al Masum
Local fashion brands and retailers bearing the brunt of the yearlong COVID-19 pandemic and previous lockdowns have urged the government not to extend the ongoing seven-day restrictions any further.
They fear huge losses if their shops and retail outlets remain closed during the peak business season ahead of Pahela Baishakh and Eid season.
To make up for their losses incurred in last year’s lockdown, traders have called on the government to allow them to operate their businesses, even if for certain hours in the day, ahead of Pahela Baishakh and Ramadan.
“It would be disastrous for traders if they cannot do business during Eid and Pahela Baishakh,” President of the Fashion Entrepreneurs Association of Bangladesh, Syed Azharul Haque Azad, told The Business Post.
“Incurring huge losses last year, entrepreneurs made new investments into their ventures in a bid to recover from losses and make a turnaround,” Azad explained.
“If the government extends the ongoing lockdown then we cannot sell our stock products for the business season. Therefore, for the sake of the hundreds of traders and employees, I urge the government not to stretch the lockdown any further,” said Azad.
Soumik Das, Chief Executive Officer of Rang Bangladesh said, Bangladesh's local fashion brands live on sales ahead of festivals such as the Eid-ul-Fitr. This year the brands are left with little option but to plan ahead of the main business season due to the possibility of more lockdowns, he added.
“This Eid festival is crucial for the sector’s survival as we could not sell our stock products last year and had to suffer huge losses. To remain in business we need to operate,” said Soumik.
“Although online marketplaces or platforms have added to our sales volume, it is merely not enough to recover losses and retain customers. We can only sell 5 per cent of our total capacity through online platforms,” he added.
“In the given context, the government should allow fashion houses and retailers to keep their shops open just like the super shops,” Soumik opined.
Another entrepreneur Shaheen Ahmed, CEO of Anjan, said: “Most of our profits come during Pahela Baishakh and Eid festivals. But if our shops remain closed during these festivals then how are we going to make profits?”
“We want to operate our businesses following health guidelines and do not want any more lockdown,” he added.