Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Retail Sales Jobs in Bangladesh

LightCastle Analytics Wing
February 14, 2022
Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Retail Sales Jobs in Bangladesh


Rising incomes and globalization have accelerated the growth of several industries catering to the needs of urbanities who choose convenience and quality – retail is an example of such an industry. In 2017-20, the retail sector expanded at rates over 8% per annum. The sector is also slowly evolving in terms of stores composition – organized retail stores are increasingly becoming a popular choice in the middle and upper-middle-class neighborhoods of urban hubs.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic may be changing the trends in the retail sector and affecting the labor force of the retail sector. In order to gain evidence on the impact that COVID-19 has had on the employment of men and women in the retail sales sector in Bangladesh, the International Labour Organization (ILO), in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), commissioned a study to LightCastle Partner.

The aims of the study were as follows:

  • Evaluate the strategies utilized by enterprises to preserve human resources during lockdown periods, including hiring and firing, hours, and wage reductions
  • Assess the personal coping strategies of workers in the sector, both at the workplace and at home

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Our Approach

LightCastle used a mixed-method approach for this study. A range of stakeholders was interviewed for the study, including workers at fixed storefronts, own-account workers, managers, and members of workers and employers’ associations. A quantitative sample size of 450 workers was divided amongst three key regions of Dhaka District: Dhaka North City Corporation, Dhaka South City Corporation, and Savar. Members of Retail Workers’ and Employers’ Associations were interviewed in detail to validate findings from the quantitative surveys. 

Surveys for Retail Jobs Study in Bangladesh

The study carefully evaluated the impact of COVID-19 on the profit of retail stores, hiring and workforce reduction trends, as well as the accessibility and usage of the pandemic stimulus packages by the retail enterprises. In addition, factors that may have influenced hiring and workforce reduction, such as on-the-job performance, gender, etc., were also evaluated. An important objective of the study was to segregate the impact of COVID-19 on the labor force in terms of the gender of workers. Retail sector workers were also surveyed pertaining to consumer behavior, physical as well as mental well-being during the pandemic. 

Surveys for Retail Jobs Study in Bangladesh

The Future

The findings of the study have been used for designing interventions that can improve the well-being of retail workers, improve labor productivity, and aid in sectoral growth. Some suggestions include partnership development amongst public and private sectors to facilitate childcare facilities and distribute the responsibility of childcare equally amongst genders. Awareness programs, especially those targeted at reducing gender-based violence, will benefit physical, social, and mental well-being in the retail workers’ households. Strategies can also be designed so that government stimulus programs are accessible for retail enterprises and micro-entrepreneurs.  


WRITTEN BY: LightCastle Analytics Wing

At LightCastle, we take a systemic and data-driven approach to create opportunities for growth and impact. We are an international management consulting firm which creates systemic and data-driven opportunities for growth and impact in emerging markets. By collaborating with development partners and leveraging the power of the private sector, we strive to boost economies, inspire businesses, and change lives at scale.

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