Stores selling expensive imported garment items have so far been disappointed with sales as financially solvent customers are shopping abroad while locals keep faith on domestic produce as Eid purchases gain momentum.
The days to Eid-ul-Fitr are considered the busiest shopping season in Bangladesh, particularly for garments and footwear, and shop owners prepare accordingly to meet the growing demand.
But stores that retail expensive items have not had a good time so far.
The sales have been lower so far this season compared to the last one because the wealthy segment of the customers are shopping in India thanks to the visa processing becoming easier, said Serajul Alam, who has a store in Gulshan.
“When I went to India for wholesale purchase ahead of Eid, I found more than 50 percent of the customers carrying out shopping to have come from Bangladesh,” he said.
Alam imported clothes from India and China, mostly for ladies and kids items. His store, RUPOM, located in Police Plaza, however, has found very few customers.
The scenario is the same in other stores in shopping mall as well as in all markets in upmarket areas of Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara.
The stores selling imported clothes in Bashundhara City Shopping Mall also did not have many customers whereas local brands and stores are abuzz with visitors.
“It seems that customers can’t afford the imported products,” said Kamrul Hassan Shahin, a clothes importer who has a store in the market.
He said the prices of imported products were higher than that of local products but still people preferred imported ones because of higher quality and variety in designs.
Eid shoppers have, however, thronged cheaper shopping destinations such as New Market, Gausia Market and Chandni Chowk where merchandise from India dominates store fronts. People start Eid shopping from the first weekend of Ramadan and female customers are mostly allured by the imported salwar kameez, said Sabuj Mia, a shop owner in New Market.
About 45 percent of the clothes in his store are from India, some from China and the rest is sourced locally.
“There is a tendency among female customers to ask where products originate from. Such questions indicate that they are expecting to hear that the items are from India or Pakistan,” he said.
Though people are rushing for Indian clothes at cheaper prices in New Market, the items are actually locally produced, said Abu Khalid, who owns a store in Bashundhara City Shopping Mall.
He said the items are produced using low-quality fabrics and copying Indian or Chinese designs. As a result, stores can easily sell the products at lower prices in the pretext of being Indian or Chinese.
Ramzan Mia, owner of a store in Gausia Market, said he sells local items but most of those were made from costly cotton fabrics, prompting customers to turn to cheaper Indian alternatives. The price of imported salwar kameez ranges between Tk 1,500 and Tk 5,000 in New Market and Gausia Market, he said.