Tailors fear huge losses amid lockdown
Markets unlikely to see shopping spree before Eid
ISLAMABAD: Ramazan and Eidul Fitr are amongst their busiest seasons for dressmakers. But this year, tailors in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi are fearing that they could be left twiddling their thumbs with both cities under a lockdown to combat the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Even though the government has allowed tailors to reopen their stores, provided they follow the due standard operating procedures (SOPs), most of the markets remain shut, depriving these seamsters of access to raw materials and more critically, of customers.
“Where will people buy the cloth they need to have a dress tailored,” asked a dressmaker when asked about the prospects of his business by The Express Tribune in the federal capital.
The dressmakers said that not only are the markets closed in the federal capital - including in Blue Area, Aabpara and Melody - but they are also shut in neighbouring Rawalpindi.
Some of the more enterprising tailors and with obvious access to greater resources, also stack their shops with unstitched cloth and other items that go into a dress. The one-stop shops were originally created to offer clients the facility of purchasing everything under a single roof. But with a lockdown, owners of these businesses are banking on this convenience to be able to make a profit.
The advent of the holy month of Ramazan is deemed as a blessing by dressmakers as many people prefer to not only wear new dresses on Eidul Fitr - which comes at the end of the fasting month - but also during the month.
Usually, tailors are already booked out by this stage and many stop taking fresh orders. But this year, many say that even though they have reopened their shutters, they are still waiting for customers.
For the cloth merchants, many are fearful that if the markets do not reopen in time, they could suffer losses.
Nafees Ahmed, a tailor, told The Express Tribune that he had placed an order for spools of cloth worth Rs0.3 million with different textile mills in Lahore and Faisalabad. But now he was afraid of suffering significant losses if the situation persists any longer as the factories are shut and have yet to complete his order.
“The factories are closed and even if the order is delivered after Ramazan, it will be useless for me,” he said.
Ahmed noted that most tailors in the federal capital operate on a system of credit to purchase cloth from factories and mills.
“We take the cloth from factories and pay them once the stock has been sold,” Ahmed said.
The 25-day-long lockdown, however, has taken an immense toll on Ahmed mentally and financially. He said that it has become hard for him to feed his family let alone bear the expenses of his shop such as the utility bills, monthly rent and the debt he has to retire.
Another tailor who runs a shop in the popular Melody Market, Naseer, appreciated the federal government for launching the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme but expressed reservations over the amount being disbursed.
“The government should tell us how can we survive an entire month in just Rs12,000?”.
He further demanded that the government announce the reopening of cloth markets so that their business can resume before Eid.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2020.