Despite a high customer turnout, fashion houses outside Dhaka have said their sales are still low even just seven days before Eid compared to normal times.
Ashraful Islam, owner of Ananya Fashion House at City Heart Shopping Mall in Sylhet, said shoppers are coming to the mall, but now they are more browsing than buying. Sales might gain momentum in the final moments preceding Eid this year.
Saiful Islam, another fashion house owner in Sylhet metropolis, said buyers at his firm are mainly rural people who are now busy in paddy harvesting.
Apart from that, traders and shoppers noted some other reasons, such as a spike in the prices of essential commodities, income loss due to the pandemic and pricier clothes that are preventing the Eid sales from registering a strong rebound this time, especially after Covid made a havoc of the previous two seasons.
In Bogura city, Runner Plaza is a ritzy shopping destination. Alauddin, a clothing store manager in the market, said the pandemic has reduced people's incomes as well as the fact that they have lost many buyers. Many of the shoppers are now looking for clothes at a discount or low prices.
Tahmina Islam, a shopper who came to Runner Plaza, said her husband's business was in very bad shape because of Covid. Even if he has turned around a bit now, Tahmina cannot afford to buy expensive dresses.
Nasreen Akhter, a school teacher in Lakshmipur, said the price of everything, including clothes and shoes, is very high this time round.
Even bargaining in the shops seems to be very exhausting.
In contrast to the dull sales, though, the outlets of popular brands face the Eid rush until late night.
In Rajshahi, popular fashion houses such as Aarong, Le Reve and Easy are crowded with shoppers. A long queue of shoppers is spotted before the Aarong outlet in the hours after iftar. Aarong has said its sales are satisfactory.
The President of the Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Masadur Rahman Rinku, said Eid sales are getting better this time and traders are quite satisfied. He said Eid sales in Rajshahi city would be around Tk2,000-Tk3,000 crore.
In Jashore, women are looking for "Puspa" and "Kancha Badam" saris – dresses that were shown or popularised by Indian TV serials and social media celebrities. The saris are being sold from Tk1,500 to the highest rate of Tk4,000.
Besides, hand paint, batik, sico gadwal, organza and Banarasi silk saris are also in high demand. Young girls prefer three pieces, while punjabi is on the favourite list for men of all ages.
Housewife Nabila Haque said she could not go to her ancestral village on the last two Eids due to the pandemic-led restrictions. But this time she will go to her village home to celebrate the festival with family and relatives.
"I bought hand-painted saris for relatives on my in-laws' side. I am very happy to be able to buy dresses easily as they were within my budget," she said.
But Bogura malls are getting fewer customers compared to pre-pandemic times thanks to the price hike of essential commodities.
Besides, the price of clothes is also relatively high this time. People are moving around in the markets to check out the prices.
An employee of a fashion house in Bogura's Jaleswaritala said the demand for punjabis is high this Eid. But there have been few customers for expensive punjabis.
Bogura New Market is traditionally abuzz with customers ahead of every Eid. Rashedul Islam, general secretary of the traders' association of the market, said shops are getting fewer buyers than usual. He, however, hoped there would be good business in the remaining days of the Ramadan.
In Lakshmipur, Eid shoppers throng the market at night. Faruk Hossain, owner of Priyojan Fashion at Zia Shopping Complex in Ramganj of the district, said children's clothes are being sold more during the day. But shoppers are mostly coming after dusk.
Traders in Cumilla said Eid shopping in the district has gained momentum though sales were sort of dull until the 20th Ramadan.
Manjurul Alam, general secretary of the Cumilla Eastern Plaza Shop Owners' Association, said sales had revved up in all of the more than 300 shops in the market.
He said the Eid sales of the market could be around Tk100 crore this time, in contrast to the losses incurred in the last two seasons.
Brahmanbaria traders said their sales have been satisfactory since the 10th Ramadan. Womenswear and childrenswear now are dominating the Eid sales.
Sumon Saha, a fashion house manager of Brahmanbaria's City Centre, said traders are a little worried whether all the Eid stocks will be sold out since Eid shopping started rather late.
Azizul Haque, president of Brahmanbaria Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said both buyers and sellers have ridden out the pandemic chaos and sales have been good so far.
In Barishal, footpath markets are abuzz with shoppers from evening till late into the night.
"I have had good sales since the beginning of Ramadan. The sales now hover around Tk30,000-Tk50,000 a day from the previous Tk3,000-Tk5,000," said Shahin Ahamed, a trader at City Corporation Building Hawkers' Market.
"Customer turnout has been good so far, but the sales are not sufficient," Sumi Akter, a salesperson at a Barishal fashion house, told The Business Standard.