At every level, the fashion industry continues being negatively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Stocking and production have since gone to a halt, forcing retailers to close shop following the coronavirus pandemic. “In Uganda, the fashion industry entirely depends on physical retail,” says Edith Batuka in Kireka. “Most transactions are done as one tries a dress or shirt on, in the shop.” “There’s so much focus, by consumers, on purchasing essential items to survive. Fashion is now an after-thought. It is out of context presently,” added Batuka. “People used to buy new clothes for weddings, parties, and festivals.”
A cross-section of respondents interviewed during the lockdown says they are not interested in buying clothes, which leaves dealers wondering what will happen to the existing stock of clothes, footwear, and jewelry they have in stock.
In Buziga, cosmetics stockiest, Hamida Sanyu, says the image a woman portrays must be presentable be it during Lockdown or not. “What I have in stock today may go out of fashion this month,” says Sanyu. “However, people in Kampala just need time. They will bounce back like a bat. Remember the mini-skirts of the 1960s, high heeled shoes, and wigs? They are in vogue today,” she adds. Downtown Kampala city and in the neighborhoods, dealers are making an effort to sell anything they are able to at significantly discounted prices online. “We are targeting consumers who are buying what to wear at home,” confided Joseph Kiberu. The outfits include tropical shirts, jogging frocks, saris, and leggings. These are on market online and are doing well in Buziga, Gaba, Gaba, Bugolobi, and Bunga. However, retailers in Wandegeya are offering huge discounts as time goes on in order to be able to recover financially when the Lockdown is lifted. “Good enough, we do not have two hemispheres like the UK or USA, where we need winter and summer clothes,” said Edmond Agaba. “Today the issue of clothes going out of style is less important, given a variety in place compared to what it was 20 years ago.”