Inflation bites book and flower business

| Updated: February 13, 2023 14:18:02

Inflation bites book and flower business

The publishing industry and flower business are hard hit this year, primarily because of inflationary pressure and the Covid-19 pandemic that is now on the retreat. Among the items that are witnessing a decline in sales include books and flowers.

Flower trade has declined by 25-30 per cent while book trade by 30-35 per cent since 2020, said traders and publishers.

February is the peak month for trade of flowers and books when 'Ekushey Book Fair' in Dhaka and other many cities and towns are held and spring festival and Valentine's Day are celebrated,

According to Bangladesh Flower Society (BFS), National Nursery Society of Bangladesh (NNSB) and state-backed Hortex Foundation, flower and foliage business boomed to its peak in 2019-20 financial year at Tk 20 billion.

It dropped by 60 per cent in FY'21 due to the COVID-induced lockdown, said president of BFS Abdur Rahim.

He said the sector revived to some extent in FY'22 compared to that of FY'21 but was still 30 per cent lower than that of the peak year FY'20.

"We were hoping for a favorable business climate in FY'23 but people, especially lower middle class have cut their expenditure on trendy non-food items amid high prices of essentials," he said.

He said flower and foliage farmers at Godkhali in Jashore sold flowers above Tk 4.0 million a day in February 2020 which has declined to just 1.8 million in 2023. Md Ohidul, proprietor of Phool Sajja at Shahbagh, said they make 60 per cent of their business in February by supplying flowers to event managements companies, individuals coming to the book fair across the month, friends and lovers, and different organisations on the eve of the Ekushey February.

He said sale has gone gown by 20 per cent this year than that of last year.

"Man/woman who earlier bought flowers at least twice in a week now come to my shop once in three months," he said.

He said new people are not coming to the business anymore for last two years amid such dull business.

"15-20 per cent of people in flower business left the trade in last two years," he said.

According to the state-run Bangla Academy, authority of the Ekushey Book Fair, book sales reached its peak in 2020 at Tk 820 million.

It declined to Tk 311 million in 2021 and revived to 525 million in February 2022.

Publishers, the FE interviewed, said the trade hardly could surpass that of FY'22.

Moinul Ahsan Saber, writer and owner of Dibya Prakash lamented on his facebook account the poor sale of books.

He said it would be tough to exist in future if such condition persists.

Writer Salauddin Shuvro, told the FE that his eighth book, a teenage science fiction 'Gachero Mon Acche' (trees also have minds) has been published in this Ekushe Book Fair.

He said overall sale of books is now in a pathetic state this year compared to normal years like 2020, 2019. He said youths are only buyers of books while other segments of readers are almost absent.

Youngsters too are buying books in lesser numbers, he said.

Many publishers would close their operations in coming years if the readers stopped to buy books, he said.

Researcher and Professor at Dhaka University Dr Abdul Muhit, said February is a month for book and flowers.

Exchanging flower and new books with friends and lovers in February has become a metropolitan tradition which has also spread in the suburb and rural areas, he said. He said reading books other than ones taught in classes has drastically declined among tech-savvy people.

Printed book business will gradually decline while publishers and writers will have to think differently.

"PDF, podcast, audio books etc are becoming alternatives where smart-phone freaks could at least look through," he said.

He said the higher inflation might have also put serious impact on flower, book and other businesses as the low middle income is cutting their expenditure to cope with the tough condition.

Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data showed 14 key essentials witnessed a 15-80 per cent hike in last one and half years. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics recorded inflation reached an 11-year high to 9.52 per cent in August, 2022.

Papia Jerin, owner of Baibhab Publisher, said last year she released 25 new books from his house which declined to 17 this year.

She said cost of paper has increased 50-60 per cent in a year which is forcing publishers to raise prices of books as well as to cash some profits at a time.

This has come as a great challenge which is making us think to reduce number of books, she said.

She also said marketing policy should be changed taking into account the attitude of new readers.

[email protected]

Share if you like

Filter By Topic