Global demand for readymade garments by big fashion houses from Bangladesh has dried up. This is coinciding with the peak season for purchase orders. Around 35 to 40 per cent of annual exports are made during this period. Orders from Western markets for the winter season and Christmas are almost ready for shipment. However, the products will go unsold unless they are delivered soon. As per Syed Nazrul Islam, Senior VP, BGMEA and a garment trader in Chattogram, products are ready for export and factory owners are anxious to dispatch their shipments.
The shutdown orders in Bangladesh have been extended to export-oriented manufacturing units as well. Factories will not reopen until August 5, at least. The situation presents an unusual predicament for the apparel industry, as garment factories were allowed to operate during the first phase of lockdowns in March 2020. Factory owners are reticent about resuming operations before the end of the lockdown in the face of an ever-worsening pandemic. Reopening factories in the face of soaring infections seems a dim possibility. Some exporters are toying with the idea of finishing the work with a small number of workers if the lockdown is prolonged. Before the second wave of the pandemic struck, the garment sector was seeing signs of a turnaround, but this optimism is slowly starting to dissipate. The only solution to the crisis seems a mass vaccination program for workers.