No customer means no business and zero profit
“Please don’t make any mistakes in the designs I gave you. The dress you made doesn’t fit me.” -- Two and a half months ago, the tailors of Dhaka city were busy dealing with customers, coming in to get their attires altered due to poor fitting or errors in design, and taking new orders.
However, due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and lockdown, like other many facilities, tailor shops had to close down.
A great economic loss
The proprietor of Shagorika Tailors, Abul Gaffer said, “We had to close our shop. But the timeline was extremely crucial for us as we were only a few days away from Shab-e-Barat which is considered as the beginning of the Eid season.”
With recent permission from the authority, many tailor shops have reopened their facility from May 10. Despite the permission, many shops couldn’t open because of the decision taken by the market management authority.
“I couldn’t open my shop as the market authority informed us that it will remain closed till May 31. That means I won’t be able to earn a single penny during this Eid,” said Abul, whose shop is located in the Concord plaza, Green road.
Though shopping malls did not re-open, many tailor shops in residential areas have started working. The owner of Rubel tailors has opened his shop in Mohammadpur but still didn’t get a single order. “Last year, my net profit during Eid was Tk80,000. But this year, I haven’t received a single order.”
Echoing Rubel, Rabeya Begum from Khulna also spends her days in huge stress since the family totally depends on her earnings.
Eid-ul -fitr is considered as the peak time for business. On an average, a small tailor shop’s profit during this Eid season is around Tk70,000 to Tk100,000, and the bigger the setup, the bigger the profit amount. “The profit margin varies on the basis of how big the business is,” said Mohammad Shahin, owner of Mitali Fashion.
“We take orders of around Tk500,000 during Ramadan, but this year we haven’t been able to get one order, at first due to lockdown and now they’re afraid of getting outside,” said Firoz Mahmud, the manager of Hiya Boutiques in Chittagong.
Yet, there’s the burden of payments
Despite the fact that there’s zero income during the pandemic, the owners are expected to pay the rent and the salary of the employees. However, for many owners, it has become difficult to bear the huge burden of cost in a situation where the business is zero for around two months.
The owner of Shagorika Tailors, Abul Gaffer has to spend Tk60,000 from his own savings only in these two months, in order to bear the cost of the shop, workshop rent and payment of his workers.
Muhammad Rubel, owner of Rubel Tailors said, “During this lockdown period, two of my employees went to their home in the village, and before that, I cleared their payment in March. However, I couldn't pay them the salary of April and probably won’t be able to this month as well since I get no new orders.”
Firoz Mahmud, together with eight more employees of Hiya Boutiques, didn’t receive their monthly salary from the owner since the shop remained closed due to lockdown in March. “We are living in great misery,” said Firoz.
Amount of orders
The rush during Eid season would be so high that tailor shops would remain a busy place from 10am in the morning, to before sehri time. “However, this time the scenario is totally opposite,” said Rubel.
Moreover, most of the tailors confirmed that they didn’t get a single order and spent time in completing the work of previous orders. “Given the current situation, since we are yet to get any orders, at present we are completing our pending works,” said Rabeya Begum.
Fortunately, Mohammad Shahin got an order of three dresses, “After getting the call, I had to go to the house to take the measurements, while maintaining the safety measures for Covid-19. The customers were repeatedly reminding me of ensuring the highest safety while making the dresses.”
Scarcity of raw materials
Even though the government has given the permission to open the shops, many dress-makers fear that they might face the scarcity of raw materials like yarn, fabrics etc which may create further barriers in work. “Many markets haven’t opened yet. Even if we get a very minimum amount of orders, I fear we may face challenges like being out of matching yarn and fabrics,” said Firoz.
Playing with danger
After getting the notification that tailors can open their shops, many went back to their respective work locations in order to earn on the occasion of Eid by ignoring the danger of getting infected by Covid-19 while travelling. One such example is Mohammad Shahin, the owner of Mitali fashion who went to his hometown Chandpur at the end of March, after shutting down his shop in Lalmatia. “I had to take the risk. I’m left with no money,” said Shahin. In order to come to Dhaka, he had to borrow money from his neighbours.
The victim of a similar situation, Muhammad Rubel said, “I was left with no choice but to come back, with the hope that may be, I would be able to earn even a little bit of money in order to support my family and enjoy the Eid.”