Jersey sales surge as football fever grips fans
Jersey sales have surged in Bangladesh despite the cost-of-living crisis as fans are gearing up to watch the FIFA World Cup 2022 in style.
The national football team is not part of the quadrennial competition, which kicked off in Qatar yesterday, but there is no lack of fervour among local fans.
In fact, they are flocking to retail stores across the country in droves to grab the jersey of their favourite team taking part in the World Cup four thousand kilometres away.
On Thursday, three friends – Masudur Rahman, Tuhin Islam, and Dipan Biswas – went to the Somobay Twin Towers Market in Gulistan to buy jerseys.
Rahman, a supporter of the Brazilian football team, bought a jersey for his two-year-old son. Islam, a fan of the Argentine team, purchased one jersey for himself, one for his six-year-old son, and one for his younger brother.
Dipan, also a Brazilian supporter, bought one for himself.
The entire Gulistan has worn a festive look as retailers and wholesalers from the capital and other parts of the country are coming to buy jerseys for themselves or for their shops
Rahman and Islam also have had the names of their sons printed on the rear of the shirts, spending Tk 80 each.
The three are among the hundreds of thousands of football fans who have bought jerseys of their favourite football teams.
In fact, the entire Gulistan has worn a festive look as retailers and wholesalers from the capital and other parts of the country are coming to buy jerseys for themselves or for their shops.
There are 300-350 retail and wholesale shops in the area home to the Maulana Bhashani Hockey Stadium Market, the Somobay Twin Towers Market, the Hall Market and the Bangabazar Market.
Traders say jerseys of Argentine and Brazilian football teams are the most sought-after items, together accounting for almost 90 per cent of the jerseys sold.
The team shirts of Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, England, the Netherlands and Croatia are also being sold.
Md Altaf Hossain, managing director of Pacific Sports at the Maulana Bhashani Hockey Stadium Market, says they are witnessing an avalanche of customers in the markets.
"The customers' turnout has exceeded our expectations. As a result, the sales have been good."
He is selling the team's jersey at Tk 1,200 and the fan's jersey at Tk 1,000.
Md Rakibul Hasan Uzzal, the proprietor of Khelar Bhuban, an outlet in Sirajganj's Mukta Plaza, came to Dhaka to buy jerseys from the Twin Towers wholesale market on Wednesday since all of the jerseys he took earlier have been sold out even before the World Cup began.
"The sales of jerseys have begun in full swing in the northern district as well," he said.
Omar Chishty Sunny, proprietor of Sports Centre at the Somobay Twin Tower Market, imports jerseys along with some other traders.
According to the trader, jerseys are mainly manufactured in China and Thailand. But local traders bring in most of the shirts from China.
There are three types of jerseys for each team: home, away and practice jerseys. Of the three, the home jerseys are high in demand compared to two others, Sunny said.
M Shamim Hossain Patwary, president of the Bangladesh Sports Goods Merchants Manufacturers and Importers Association, says the demand for locally made jerseys has increased a lot.
This is because most traders are not able to open a letter of credit (LC) to import jerseys due to the ongoing dollar crisis.
In order to save the foreign exchange reserves, whose level fell by 25 per cent since the Russia-Ukraine war began, the government has limited the imports of non-essential and luxury items.
Since LCs could not be opened, jerseys could not be imported in line with demand. So, traders have had to depend on local suppliers this time around.
Some businesspeople like Patwary opened LCs to buy sports accessories, including jerseys, before the outset of the dollar crisis.
Street vendors are also selling jerseys of football teams, and so do online sellers.
Sabbir Hossain, manager of Solco Sports in Mirpur, which sells jerseys online, says there is a demand for all types of jerseys. Among them, jerseys priced at Tk 350 to Tk 550 are high in demand.
In the past several weeks, he has received orders to sell 200 to 250 jerseys every week.