Clothing retailers had a good run this Eid-ul-Fitr thanks to soaring demand from urbanites in keeping with their improved purchasing power.
“We are seeing a good crowd. People are buying,” said Md Helal Uddin, president of the Bangladesh Shop Owners Association, adding that the sales this Eid will be at least 10 percent higher than the last.
Eid-ul-Fitr is the biggest religious festival of Muslims, which make up the majority of Bangladesh’s population. Subsequently, it is the peak shopping season in the country, typically accounting for nearly one-third the total annual wholesale and retail trade, said traders.
Helal said they expect that overall sales from shops would be Tk 25,000 crore to Tk 30,000 crore this year.
“The growing popularity of e-commerce is affecting us. Plus, a section of the affluent people are also shopping abroad.”
But still, the overall buying mood remains positive, he added.
“The stable political climate this year has been instrumental in boosting buying sentiment,” said Shaheen Ahmmed, president of the Fashion Entrepreneurs Association of Bangladesh (FEAB).
Since the Eid would be celebrated right in the middle of summer, sales of cotton clothes are expected to be higher. Azharul Haque Azad, former president of the FEAB, expects local fashion stores to log in about Tk 3,800 crore in sales this Eid, up from Tk 3,500 crore last year.
“This is a better season compared to the last couple of years,” he said.
Apart from clothing, footwear makers, electronics retailers and above all e-commerce stores are experiencing soaring demand.
Sales of televisions and refrigerators shot up during the month of Ramadan that crescendos into Eid-ul-Fitr, said Nahid Hasan, marketing manager of Transcom Digital, one of the leading electronics retailers.
“It appears electronics and furniture have become lifestyle items and many people buy them on the occasion of Eid,” he said, adding that big screen and 4K ultra-high-definition televisions are in particular demand this year.
Urbanites, remittance and labour income from soaring exports earning appear to be driving the Eid expenditure this year, said Zahid Hussain, lead economist of the World Bank’s Dhaka office.
But the collapsing prices of paddy are likely to be depressing the buying mood of farmers, especially the small and marginal ones, he added.
The price of rice depending on the quality fell between 6 percent and 13 percent in the Dhaka city markets over the last one month, according to the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.
Agriculture is the main livelihood of 45 percent of the workforce and farmers are based in rural areas, home to more than 70 percent of the total population.
The World Bank in 2014 estimated that retail trade in Bangladesh’s domestic market during the last two Eid festivals reached a staggering $12 billion.
The size of the economy (as measured by total gross national income) has grown by more than 55 percent between 2014 and 2018.
If Eid spending grows at the same pace, it can be estimated to reach nearly $19 billion this year, Hussain added. Remittance inflows and export receipts have been on the upward trend in the first ten months of the fiscal year.
Between July last year and April this year, $13.30 billion flew in as remittance and $33.93 billion as export earnings.