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The Financial Express

Crowds pour in for Dhaka's Eid shopping amid virus infection risk

| Updated: May 08, 2021 12:16:39


This footbridge in the New Market area of the city is crammed with people on Friday - a telltale sign that people are recklessly violating the Covid-19 health guidelines, posing a severe threat of the further virus spread — FE photo This footbridge in the New Market area of the city is crammed with people on Friday - a telltale sign that people are recklessly violating the Covid-19 health guidelines, posing a severe threat of the further virus spread — FE photo

Different city shopping malls drew huge crowds on Friday, the last weekly holiday ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr, amid massive flouting of health guidelines that poses a severe threat of further virus spread in coming days.

However the crowds didn't translate into good business for many traders, as they said they could hardly make half or one-third of their usual Eid sales.

Easing the restrictions for shopping malls and public transport have helped the traders somewhat offset their losses due to the lockdown in the last month, they said.

Visits to different shopping centres, including Bashundhara City, New Market and Eastern Plaza, revealed additional crowds compared to other times.

Most of the visitors-buyers were seen wearing masks, albeit they could not maintain social distancing.

A customer Fazle Rabbi Naim said he came to Bashundhara City to buy some clothes for his relatives to celebrate the festival this year.

"Unlike other years' Eid shopping, I have come alone today on behalf of my whole family to do the shopping keeping the virus outbreak in mind," said Mr Naim, a school teacher.

Yet, it's risky to roam along the alleys of the shopping mall crammed full of people, he said, adding that he was fully aware of maintaining the health safety rules.

"Actually, you cannot celebrate Eid without new dresses. Besides, you have to go outside for different purposes...So avoiding Eid shopping doesn't make a major difference," he said.

A representative of the fashion house named 'Rise' told this correspondent that their sales volume this time was lower than half of the sales during the usual Eid season in previous years.

"We are passing through a very tough time as the sales volume is much lower than our expectations," he said

The limited sales can only help recover the losses incurred in the recent times, he added.

Customers with low budget are mostly going to the budget-friendly shopping centres like New Market, Gawsia, and Chadni Chawk.

Those areas were seen occupied with customers more than the capacity, while many didn't wear face masks saying it was too hot a weather to wear masks.

While talking to this correspondent, Md Mannan, proprietor of Fiza Collections at Eastern Plaza shopping centre, said customers were mostly looking for baby items, panjabi and three-pieces.

"The number of customers has increased slightly today, but it is not enough to sustain my business," he said.

According to him, though people are coming to the malls, still a majority of the potential buyers are afraid of visiting the malls.

"We took adequate preparation with new collections and increased inventory months ago for Eid this year," he said.

But sales volume is lower than the expectations, he added.

Suppliers are now seeking for their dues, while lenders including banks have been pushing for repayment, he added.

Md Salman, in-charge of Century Sharees at the same mall, said keeping the malls operational rather than complete shutdown was something positive for them.

Earlier on Thursday, Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Malikat a webinar warned that the gatherings at the shopping malls and the violation of safety measures there could increase the number of Covid-19 infections.

"What happens if someone doesn't buy a new dress for a single Eid festival," he said.

The government allowed the shopping malls to be operational, but it's someone's own choice whether to go there or not, he added.

He also said the government alone could not control everything.

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