While their exports have grown dramatically, political unrest and uncertainty has increased their costs, depriving them of the opportunity to achieve even greater increases. According to their trade association,
"In November, [garment] exports rose over 29 per cent but our target was about 40 per cent."It's a fair bet that at least some of that 29% increase is now hanging on sale rails or languishing in warehouses, waiting for some shopper to succumb to the lure of a hefty sale discount; many major chain stores still have large areas of the shop floor devoted to sale garments nearly a month after they first began to cut prices.
The major supermarkets, too, have been left with unsold items clogging up their clothing departments - cheap and cheerful their wares may be, but when the high street giants have slashed their prices to similar levels, the discerning customer is likely to head for the mall.
The clothing retail industry seems to have bought wholeheartedly into the belief that growth is infinitely sustainable, and, with a finite customer base, this means expecting everyone to buy more - the reasoning behind a major retailer's boast that its website has 'hundreds of new arrivals every week'.
Many of these new arrivals will be marked down within a few weeks to make way for the next shipment. The trouble with this strategy is that it ignores the inherent conservatism of many shoppers and the financial and storage constraints that place a natural ceiling on almost everyone's purchasing.
Prices are the lowest they have ever been in real terms as retailers compete in a race to the bottom, but much of this has been achieved at the cost of low pay and appalling working conditions for workers in the industry. Somehow it makes it worse to think that the results of their labours now sit neglected on a sale rail amid a glut of unwanted merchandise.
Meanwhile, other countries are getting in on the act, with India planning the kind of factory and dormitory combinations that have allowed China to undercut the rest of the world in manufacturing costs. Even allowing for new markets opening up in developing countries where second-hand clothes are currently big business, it's hard to see how these millions of garments will find a home.
Clothing sales surely cannot continue to grow indefinitely, whatever the manufacturers of Bangladesh may wish for.