Analysis
3 months ago

A CLOSE LOOK

Eid shopping in the perspective of economic recession

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If Ramadan is a time for self-abnegation or asceticism, it is also an occasion for sharing and caring. Unfortunately, self-control and self-denial are not matched by the reaching out to others in need. Yet, the fact remains that this period is marked by sumptuousness and consumption at its most optimal. Even at a time when economic recession is having its unforgiving toll, business is brisk and this periodic proceedings are set to overtake those of the rest of the year.

Following the month-long abstemiousness, there is the reward of celebration of the greatest ever festival, Eid-ul-Fitr for the Muslims the world over. While the practice of self-restraint goes on, there has to be a preparation for that great occasion. This opens up an avenue for a section of affluent class to flaunt their wealth. A shopping spree takes wings triggering a business bonanza for traders. Fashion houses become hyperactive and the craze is capitalised by importers of the latest female dress of the latest styles. Given some attractive or even seductive names to imported salwar-kameez, lehenga, lehenga choli, anarkoli suit, kurta etc; shopping malls try to draw attention of potential customers.

Not all such business tricks work and all the time, but most of the time those attempts are successful provided that those dresses had been worn by a famous actress in a Bollywood film. There was heart-breaking news of a couple of girls inflicting the worst possible harm to their lives a few years back because their parents did not have the means to purchase the dress of their choice. So far, this year no such dress has captured the headlines to make customers mad about it.

Then what about Dhaka couture? In fact, local fashion houses are yet to flourish to cater to the high-end clientele. They procure their special dresses from abroad. Even the shoppers who go to Kolkata for their Eid dresses are no match for the top echelon of moneyed people visiting some of the Southeast Asian cities for their regular Eid shopping.

It is anachronistic that the country that earns its major forex from garment export has yet to stamp its own signature on couture brands that would attract people abroad. In men's wears, the mark made by Bangladesh is not negligible. On the front of denim jeans wears, the progress is laudable. Even the local market is deriving some benefits from this particular types of dress.

At a time of economic recession, business certainly will not reach the level it would have done in normal time. Yet a section of customers are there who betrays no trace of strain in their pockets when it comes to Eid shopping in this capital and other urban centres. They are the happy-go-lucky type who have at their disposal more money than purchases on the occasion of Eid festivals can claim.

It is, however, the middle-income people who feel the pinch when they go for Eid shopping. This class has always been the movers of the country's economic wheel largely because they cannot compromise on quality and they outnumbered the upper crust of society. The low-income group and the marginalised segment of society had never the purchasing power to stoke business to a remarkably higher level. The inflation has severely eroded the purchasing power of the middle class and the fixed income groups. Now these people will be hard pressed to balance between their taste and need. Business cannot reach the optimal level because of the major segment's lower purchasing capacity.

However, a festival is an occasion that people want to enjoy as best as they can. Particularly the young ones will feel disappointed not to get what they used to procure for celebration of the great occasion. But if they are taught to take a look at the poor child looking dejected for not even getting a new dress on the occasion, their heavy hearts will feel lighter. If they are better humans, they may even ask their parents to dispense with some money for giving a present to that hapless child. By giving thus, they will feel heavenly bliss in their own hearts. There is hardly any greater reward than this inner joy.

In celebration of any great festival like Eid, euphoria is a part but unrestrained exuberance is not. Let the celebration of the occasion not be a cause of grief for less well-to-do neighbours and others who are unfortunate not to have the means to manage the basic requirements to take part in the joy and mirth. Better it would be to raise a collective fund in each locality to provide for those less fortunate people in this crunch time.

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