Struggling clothing sector places high hopes on eid

Eid clothes
Business owners are hoping the Eid Al-Fitr holiday will usher in profits after a difficult year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — As Eid Al-Fitr approaches, clothing store owners that have suffered throughout the pandemic are hoping that they will receive a much-needed spike in business. اضافة اعلان

One owner of a clothing store, Raed Mohammad, told Jordan News that he had been waiting for eid for months, since earnings typically double ahead of the holiday. “I have been suffering a lot since the beginning of the pandemic,” he said. “I had two shops in Amman and I had to close one of them. I have to pay electricity bills and rent. How can I manage with the great increase in losses?”

Estimates place investment in the apparel sector at JD800 million, or $1.15 billion, as Jordan imports annually JD280 million worth of clothes, shoes, and fabrics from Europe, Turkey, China and India, according to remarks made by the sector’s representative at the Jordan Commerce Chamber (JCC), Asaad Al-Qawasmi, to Quds International Press Agency. 

But like many other sectors, clothing shops have suffered from lack of foot traffic, limitation on working hours, and a drop in purchasing power.

Ahmad Al Abdallah, another clothing store owner, told Jordan News that “even if people come and buy from my shop I will not be able to cover my losses. Losses are huge and I need months or even years until my financial situation stabilizes.”

“Lockdowns and early curfew led people to not buy clothes,” he explained. “They only buy what they need, their priorities are different now.”

“Online shopping had played a big role in our losses too,” Abdallah added. “I do not know why, we as owners even lowered our prices so that people of varying incomes may be able to shop.”

Contrary to that testimony however, citizens speaking to Jordan News said that to clothing stores raise their prices during occasions like eid, making online shopping more attractive.

“I personally believe that online shopping is much better,” said one consumer. “Prices are affordable and I can find better quality clothing than what’s available in shops.”

Besides prices, another attraction for online shopping for some, is the self-service nature of the process. “Some clothing store owners and employees do not know how to deal with the customer,” another shopper said. “I remember one day I had a fight with an employee because he was not treating me well. At the end he apologized and said that he was nervous due to the lack of work and earnings.”

Despite this, Munir Deyye, president of the Textile and Readymade Clothes Syndicate, told Jordan News that “there is a huge demand for clothing these days due to the occasion of Eid Al Fitr. The end of the Friday lockdowns have helped a lot.”

“Yet I can confirm that this demand is still less than that of past years,” he added. “It is not sufficient to compensate our losses.”

Around 9,800 clothing and shoe stores are spread across the various governorates of the Kingdom. Clothing stores’ profits have dropped by almost 70 percent, according to Deyye, which is “a serious indication that owners are suffering a lot. Some stores have closed. They could not handle the losses and we are afraid that more stores will close in the near future if the situation remains as is.”

The JCC has suggested one possible solution to remedy the drop in purchases across sectors: reducing curfew hours. Nael Kabariti, president of the JCC, told Jordan News that “curfew hours should be reduced during eid and before eid.”

“Most of the people work during the day, and most of them fast too. These factors make them do less shopping,” he explained. “So we are looking at extending the working hours and limiting night curfew hours.”

“The private sector understands well that health is very important, but the government has to understand too that the economy is very important as well, especially on the long run,” Kabariti added. “The only solution left to us is to keep the economy going, and open the sectors.”

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