The tailoring shop owners are feeling the brunt of the rising inflation and are expecting reduced business activities during the ongoing Eid season, compared with the last year.
With the festivities of the holy month of Ramazan continuing and the citizens beginning to prepare for the celebrations of the Eid-ul-Fitr, the tailor masters are facing various issues, as the people have so far limited their budget spending, amid rising inflation.
Amin Gul, a tailoring shop owner, expressed dismay on the reduced number of customers this season, saying that the business is taking a hit, as the customers have reduced their expenditures.
“I do not see businesses posting earnings as much or more than the previous years. The customers who would order five to six suits for stitching on the occasion of Eid, have now come down to two or maximum three,” he added.
Lower-than-expected business in the season due to less customers, hiked utility bills, workers labour charges, increased prices of raw materials used in the stitching of dresses along with the skyrocketing sewing machines parts’ prices are a few of the issues denting the business.
“The hike in the prices had a huge effect on the business, especially in this season. Even during the pandemic times, a tailor master would easily earn a profit of Rs300/suit of the total stitching charges of Rs700/suit, while these days, we stitch the same suit for Rs1,000, where the profit declined to Rs200/suit or in some cases lesser,” Gul said.
The Juki sewing machine remains the most used machine for stitching clothes of men and women, Amin said, adding that the parts of these machines are mostly imported from China with little to no manufacturing of the quality products in Pakistan.
“The prices of the machine parts have also witnessed a significant growth in the last one year where the prices of bobbin and case, needle, needle plate, rotary hook and other parts have witnessed an increase of around 40 per cent,” he added.
A few years ago, Gul said, he would stop taking bookings to stitch suits even before the beginning of Ramazan due to the over-capacity workload, but this year, even after passing of the first week of the holy month, he is still waiting for the customers to bring suits for stitching.
“A couple of years ago, I would make a profit of more than 40 per cent of the total sales at the end of the season, but this season, I am expecting less than 20 per cent profit of the total sales. It has been like this for the year or so where our profit has shrunk due to higher cost of production.”
Bukram (stiff cotton) is an essential part of the dress, which is used in collar and cuffs to provide strength and sustainability. The tailor masters buy Bukram from retail or from the wholesalers in the Bahadur Shah market, reportedly one of the biggest markets of Bukram, buttons, zips and other items.
Amir Rehman, a retailer, said that with the hike in the prices of petroleum products, the wholesalers were forced to increase the prices of the items, adding that various items such as specific buttons, needles and other sewing machine parts are imported from China and the rupee depreciation has resulted in the price hike of these imported items.
“The thread used in stitching clothes has increased from Rs10/piece to Rs15/piece in the last three months, while the wholesalers continue to raise the prices of Bukram and also machine parts on a weekly basis giving the reasons of hiked petroleum prices and higher cost of production due to the rupee depreciation,” he added.
While the tailoring shops in the areas of the lower segments of the society are complaining of multiple issues being faced by them in carrying their business activities, the tailors in the markets assisting upper segment of the society are hopeful for a better season this year, as they got a huge blow during the Covid-19 lockdowns in the previous two years or so.
Muhammad Naseeb, a tailor who stitches ladies suits in Cliff Market near Teen Talwar, expressed optimism for a better season during this Ramazan, saying that the business is recovering after being hit by the restrictions imposed by the government during the pandemic.
“During the last year, our business was at a standstill due to the restrictions, and even when the government ended the social distancing and other protocols, the people were not coming to the markets. They prefer shopping online, where they would order stitched suits without the need to come to the markets,” he added.
Now that the Eid season has begun, the tailor masters in the market are hopeful for a good business season, Naseeb said, adding that the people are coming out of the fear of contracting the disease and have started to visit markets, which is a good sign.
However, he said, the orders and bookings will not be the same as the pre-pandemic times, as the boom in the online shopping during the Covid times has had a huge impact on the local tailors, workers, artisans and other businesses, as well.
The rising inflation has left adverse effects on the buying power of the middle and lower-middle classes, as they are forced to limit their spending, while in contrast, the same had a mild impact on the upper segment of the society and its budget.
The markets catering to the needs of the upper segment are attracting more and more visits by the customers, compared with the less-developed areas of the country where people are struggling to prepare for the Eid celebrations, while managing the expenses during the month of Ramazan.