Moves by major apparel retailers to close their stores or reduce work hours across the United States and Canada for up to two weeks will hit further Bangladeshi garment exporters, who have already faced difficulties in shipping products to Europe.
Exporters apprehended that after European buyers, North American retailers might ask for cancelation of orders and shipment delay.
Major retailers in North America like Nike, Under Armour, Lululemon Athletica, Lands End, Columbia Sportswear and Gap announced in last two days that they would shut down stores or reduce store hours for all of their locations in the US and Canada amid spreading of coronavirus in the countries.
Bangladesh exporters feared that even if the brands continued with online sales, the US consumers might have little appetite for new clothes as they were rushing to food stores to stock up fearing a complete lockdown.
Many US cities including New York and Los Angeles have already enforced a complete lockdown to limit the spread of the epidemic.
Earlier, Italy, Spain and France declared nationwide lockdown as the countries took sweeping measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Most of the European retailers including Primark and Inditex shut their stores in the countries and asked Bangladeshi suppliers to hold shipment of ready garments for two to four weeks.
Exporters said that most of the EU buyers were putting the shipment of ready products on hold and cancelling the orders for products which were yet to be produced.
‘Now we are in fear of further hit in export from the US as retailers there started closing down their stores in the market,’ Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association vice-president Mohammad Hatem told New Age on Monday.
He said that the global situation was changing rapidly and putting Bangladeshi RMG exporters into uncertainties.
‘If the US retailers start putting shipment on hold and cut quantity or cancel orders, the operations of factories may be halted,’ Hatem said.
Sportswear giant Nike on Sunday said that it would keep closed its stores in the US, Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand from March 16 to 27.
It will continue normal operations at stores in South Korea, Japan, most of China and in many other countries, reports Reuters.
Under Armour said that it would shut all North America stores from Monday for about two weeks. Lululemon said that it would close its stores in North America and Europe for the similar period.
Nike and Lululemon operate over 650 stores combined in the US, while Under Armour has nearly 190 stores in North America, showed the companies’ latest annual reports. Each said that their online stores would continue to remain open.
Apparel retailers Lands End Inc and Columbia Sportswear Co also said on Sunday they would temporarily shut all of their stores in the US and North America respectively.
Gap Inc is temporarily reducing store hours for all of its locations in the US and Canada, and closing over 100 stores, incoming chief executive Sonia Syngal said in a message posted on the company’s web site.
Apparel retailer Urban Outfitters Inc, which owns brands including Anthropologie and Free People, said on Saturday it would close its stores worldwide until at least March 28.
Last week, retailers including Macy’s Inc and Saks Fifth Avenue sent notices to shoppers saying they were open for business, in a move to stem losses due to a drop in store traffic.
Earlier this month, Nike temporarily closed its European headquarters in the Netherlands after an employee was infected with coronavirus.
‘There will certainly be impacts on our business, but we do not know the actual extent of the damage as the outbreak of coronavirus is going on. It is like a fire and one can only say about the damage after it douses,’ said Anwar-ul-Alam Chowdhury Parvez, president of the Bangladesh Chamber of Industries.
He said that it would take one more week to predict the damages of RMG exporters in Bangladesh.
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