CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Malls crying for shoppers


Keeping in mind that the Eid shopping will gain a momentum in the capital city a week before the holy festival, the government has given conditional permission to open a limited number of shops accepting the request of the Bangladesh Shop Owners Association.

According to the guidelines, many shops have already opened in compliance with the health regulations. On the other hand, despite the opportunities many shopping malls and shops in Dhaka have not opened.

Even then, those who have opened are not getting buyers although there are more buyers outside the capital Dhaka. Social distancing is not being maintained in some markets also.

Several markets in different parts of the capital were visited by this correspondent on Thursday, but found limited number of shops open and not any sign of selling. The sellers are very frustrated because there is no sale.

"We are open from morning till night," said Mamun, a shopkeeper, adding that, “But the buyers don’t come fearing coronavirus. Our shop also has a sanitizing system. We can give it if anyone wants. But how will our business run if there are no buyers.”

Every year, about a month before the Eid-ul-Adha, the shops witnessed big sale raging from the sidewalk markets to the big shopping malls. But this time the situation of Eid shopping is different due to coronavirus situation.

With only 15 days left for the Eid, the shops are not able to sell the products. Even then, the traders are expecting that the sales will increase after another week.

Tanbir, a trader from New Market, said, “Shopping malls and shops were also closed for a long time. Buyers are not seen in the markets ahead of the Eid. But we all hope there will be some trading in this week.”

“If the situation does not improve too much, then many fashion houses will have to lean towards online marketing, although the amount of online sale compared to the total sales is negligible,” he added.

In the capital's Aziz Super Market and New Market, there are some sales, but meagre. Although the fashion houses are not crowded, the presence of more people has been noticed in the cosmetics shops. Many were seen collecting bangles, head clips and other cosmetic items.

Although all shops in the markets of Dhaka's Elephant Road, Gausia and Chandrima areas are not open, some shops on the ground floor of the markets have opened.

But those who come to these shops do not follow the social distancing, not everyone is wearing a mask even. When this correspondent tried to talk to a few of them, they avoided the issue of social distancing.

Namjul Hasan Mahmud, general secretary of Dhaka Metropolitan Shop Owners Association, said, "The condition of traders has been very bad since the arrival of coronavirus. If every shopkeeper is given a loan of one lakh to five lakh taka on easy terms, and those who are big businessmen lend them twenty lakh taka, then the business will turn around. At present the shopkeepers are in despair as there is no sale. We want incentives for traders on easy terms.”

Meanwhile, business leaders said that they are trying to give importance to the maintenance of hygiene rules to prevent coronavirus spread. They said that the business association has convened a meeting and instructed the business organizations to take measures to ensure the safety of all in the corona situation.