THE MARKET OF BULGARIAN PRODUCTS HAS SHRUNK DUE TO CHEAP IMPORTED GOODS
In the past five years Bulgarians have been buying fewer clothes, statistics reveal. The reasons are perfectly known - people have low purchasing power and cheap imported goods provide strong competition. In the early 1990s, Bulgaria was flooded by commodities made in Turkey of a dubious quality but a competitive price. A lot of the so-called suitcase traders traveled regularly to Turkey and carried bags full of clothes back to Bulgaria. The Sofia-based Iliyantsi trade centre put an end to that practice by offering goods for everyone at accessible prices. A lot of people earned their living by making wholesale purchases from the centre and then reselling the clothes on outdoor counters throughout the capital. What they relied on was getting small overrates and evading due fees and taxes. There are also many shops that buy their goods from Iliyantsi and then sell them downtown of Sofia and in other Bulgarian cities. At the end of this kind of operations, though, prices go up to BGN150-200 from BGN40-50 for a piece of clothing. The new labels are the only difference.Brand shops of textile producers and importers do not apply this kind of trick. The goods they sell come from well-known producers, and are of course much more expensive. Frequently, these retailers hold promotions of whole collections or seasonal clothing, attracting customers by lower prices.There are quite a few boutiques that offer unique pieces of trendy clothes or small fashionable series, but prices in them are very close to those paid in Western Europe. These shops register their biggest sale turnovers in the season of the secondary-school students' farewell balls, traders explain.A serious problem for Bulgarian producers are the officially imported numerous clothes at unrealistically low prices. The import of these commodities from countries which protect their own textile industries is growing. At the same time, these goods are reported at lower customs rates. The data concerning the registration of more exported goods from Turkey, China, Vietnam, Thailand, could be seen as a positive trend, considering the declared measures for tightening the customs control, if only they were accompanied by a higher average import price per production unit. However, facts are quite different. The average price per one kilo of textiles imported from Vietnam has fallen four times - from USD4.82/kg in 2001 to USD1.08/kg in 2002, and from China - from USD2.11/kg to USD2/kg. The same tendency is valid for goods imported from Turkey and India.Customs officers know quite well what the situation is. We also have an idea how to intercept the channels, but for now, at least, it seems we are talking in different languages, experts from the Union of Clothing and Textile Producers told the BANKER weekly. Their only chance is to count on the higher quality and sell fewer goods, while waiting for the customs services to begin fulfilling their duties.