KARACHI: Conflicting claims relating to Eidul Fitr sales amid the Covid-19 lockdown from May 8-16 have emerged, with some traders claiming good sales compared to last year while others presented a picture of doom and gloom.
In 2020, when the pandemic made its way to Pakistan in February, traders in Karachi and in some other cities were allowed business activities during Ramazan after a strict 21-day lockdown.
At that time, online sales proved to be a blessing for brands. However, most consumers did not receive their orders on time. Apart from late deliveries, many complained of faulty unstitched fabrics and poor readymade garments.
This year, the government permitted shopkeepers to keep their business open from 6am to 6pm. This option helped boost in-house sales for stores while reducing the share of online sales.
Prior to Ramazan, the markets in Karachi witnessed a huge rush of buyers from 1pm to 6pm, leading to massive traffic jams.
“I have met 90-95 per cent of the sales target,” said Hanif Bilwani, the CEO of Bonanza. He claimed that he received similar brisk sales reports from other manufacturers of branded fabrics and readymade shalwar kameez and kurta.
People thronged markets from 1pm to 6pm in a bid to complete their shopping. In previous years, people used to spend 14-15 hours and markets were flooded with buyers post-iftar (sunset) till 4am.
Limited shop timings had forced people to make quick decisions and head home, he said.
“Last year on Eid, the share of online sales was 40-50pc as compared to 12-15pc this year due to rising on-spot shopping in limited hours,” he added. He said small brands might have suffered losses as many of them are also not into online sales. Besides, daily wage earners were the biggest losers this Eid.
All City Tajir Itehad Association (ACTIA) President Sharjeel Gopalani said this year’s countrywide sales were estimated at Rs1,600-1,800 billion, up from last year’s Rs1,100-1,200bn as traders had kept their shops opened for 18 days during Ramazan as compared to just nine days in 2020. Prior to Covid-19 pandemic, the country had recorded Eid sales worth Rs2,200bn, he said.
Giving surprising sales figures, he elaborated that huge figures of Ramazan sales included all Eid-related items as well as bridal dowry, bride and bridegroom dresses, electronics, furniture, crockery, confectionary items, sweets, cakes etc. People also give zakat worth billions of rupees to the poor which helps them to buy some shoes, garments, jewellery, artificial jewellery, etc for their children, he explained.
“Sales figures in 2021 would have been much more impressive if food inflation and high utility bills would had not ruined the buying power of many people,” Mr Gopalani added. However, he said traders had been complaining about the unsold stocks of billions of rupees all over the country which would create problems between manufacturers and retailers.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2021