Unprecedented inflation casts a gloom over Eid sales

Traders said that the genuine buyers were on average 50 per cent less than last year due to eroding buying power of consumers caused by unprecedented price increases.


KARACHI: Women enquire about prices of different piece of costume jewellery at a shop in Clifton.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

April 25, 2023

ISLAMABAD – Contrary to the claim of market traders regarding a massive slowdown in sales due to skyrocketing inflation amid deepening economic and political crises, branded retail outlets did a roaring business this Eidul Fitr.

The local markets attracted a huge rush of buyers but traders said that the genuine buyers were on average 50 per cent less than last year due to eroding buying power of consumers caused by unprecedented price increases in food, electricity, petroleum, etc.

Traders were of the view that inflated electricity bills issued a few days back had caused anxiety among buyers about whether to pay the bill or go shopping.

A salesman in a leading branded garment store in Hyderi Market at North Nazimabad said that sales had remained brisk than last year despite the high price of various varieties of wearable items.

Most consumers pick lower priced goods; only a handful of retail brands report robust demand

He said the stitching cost for gents’ shalwar kameez increased by Rs500 to Rs2,500 per suit.

In residential areas and other markets, gents tailors were seen charging Rs1,500 for a suit as compared to Rs1,200 citing high power bills, yarn and labour charges.

Offering a different view, CEO of Bonanza Garments (Satrangi), Hanif Bilwani said consumers now need a hassle-free purchasing of garments with an open option to change and return the goods besides having a variety of colours and designs based on the different quality of fabrics as per their price tags.

As a result, people are moving towards readymade quality garments at branded outlets, he said.

“Overall sales of five to six leading stores have risen by 35-50 per cent than last year,” he claimed, adding that ladies mainly focused on readymade suits worth Rs7,000-8,000 while gents were lifting Rs3,000-4,000 unstitched fabric of shalwar kameez.

He said he had noticed that sales of “unbranded gents shalwar kameez and ladies suits” have remained subdued this year due to quality issues and high prices.

“The overall price hike in branded ladies and gents fabric and readymade clothes have recorded a jump of 15-25pc than last year due to the rising cost of production on account of cotton and yarn prices, power and gas bills and high transportation charges,” Bilwani said.

However, he said that the sales of gents’ readymade shalwar kameez have remained a bit 20pc slower than last year as many people prefer wearing their old suits after washing.

“Men also believe that at least they can avoid purchasing branded suits for themselves and wife/children get branded items,” he said.

Prices double

All Hyderi Business Traders and Welfare Association President Syed Mohammad Saeed claimed a 30-40pc drop in sales of Eid-related items compared to last year as prices of many items have almost doubled than last year, forcing people to lift low-priced items.

“How can a buyer dare to buy goods when he is burdened with 100pc rise in wheat flour and ghee/cooking prices followed by the additional burden of getting high power and gas bills,” he said, adding that many parents especially fathers skip buying new shalwar kameez and try to make new clothes and shoes/sandals for the family members.

In contrast to the heavy footfall of consumers in the markets, he said “There is only one buyer out of a group of four friends or family members. This is the reason for the downward trend in sales.”

All City Tajir Itehad General Secretary Mohammad Ahemd Shamsi said as per daily feedback from Association’s members in various markets, the overall sales of Eid items have remained 60-70pc slower than last year due to soaring daily life expenditure of people, no increase in salaries and incomes and looming political and economic chaos etc.

He feared rising default cases of traders in case they fail to pay back as they had lifted the items on credit amid high expectations of good sales ahead of Eid.

Markazi Tanzeem Tajiran Pakistan Kashif Chaudhry told Dawn from Lahore that “the overall sales in Pakistan plunged by 40pc due to massive price hikes in Eid-related items due to skyrocketing inflation amid costly food items and utility bills.

Tariq Road Traders Alliance (TRTA) Pres­ident Ilyas Memon claimed sales remained subdued from the first Ramazan as historic inflation reduced consumers purchasing power.

He said a normal gents’ chappal costs Rs1,500 as compared to Rs1,000 last year. The situation is alarming as people getting salaries of Rs30,000-35,000 are begging for a ration bag for their families, he deplored.

He said for many low-income group people this is one of the toughest Eid of their life to arrange clothes, bangles, shoes, sandals, artificial jewellery, etc at high prices in addition to managing daily essential food items expenses and monthly power and gas bills.

Mr Ilyas was of the view that people had confined themselves to the respective markets of their areas due to unaffordable surging transportation costs.

Bohri Bazaar Traders Association President Mansoor Jack said the sales had remained in the range of 25-30pc as people were more occupied with arranging food for daily use and money for utility bills.

All Karachi Tajir Itehad Chairman Atiq Mir termed 2023 as the worst year in terms of sales in the country’s history as only 40pc of people could make purchases with majority tried to pick lower priced items.

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