With smaller stalls at this year's Dhaka International Trade Fair (DITF), which is being held in a scaled down capacity due to the pandemic, the furniture traders are upset as they are unable to showcase enough products to attract customers.
Most furniture outlets are witnessing low visitor turnout compared to previous years, while some stalls failed to make even a single sale in the first five days of the fair.
According to some sellers, the change of venue at Purbachal might be having an impact on the low number of visitors.
Md Jamal Uddin, retail sales executive of Akhtar Furnishers Ltd, told The Business Standard that they were allotted only 800 square feet this year, whereas their pavilion at the last edition of the fair was as big as 10,000 square feet.
"We could only display 10% products compared to before," he said, adding that there are literally no visitors as they could not showcase much.
Because of the reduced stall space of 400 feet, with some companies securing two stalls for their pavilion, many furniture outlets have changed their marketing strategy and opted for displaying their products on digital screens.
"Usually we build a three-storied pavilion each year. However, we are only displaying new furniture at the stall and showing the rest of the collection on big screens and tabs," Md Rafi, Sylhet zone in charge of Hatil, told The Business Standard.
Rafi also said that they did not make much sales in the five days of the fair like that of regular years. A similar response was echoed by employees of other furniture outlets, including New Antic furniture Ltd, Nadia Furniture and Brothers Furniture Ltd.
Some furniture sellers were seen only to take bookings and not actually making sales at the fair.
On Wednesday, like the four days before that, little or no visitors were seen at the furniture stalls. One or two visitors who were seen entering furniture stalls appeared to settle for window shopping only.
Sellers think that the visitors are reluctant to make purchases as they do not see enough products to like from.
Visitors, who visited the fair to purchase furniture, also said they were disappointed.
Ayesha Akter went to the fair on Wednesday with all her family members from the capital's Mirpur area, hoping to order some furniture.
"It does not feel like the usual fair. It appears coming here was not worth it as we could see more products at any furniture showroom," she said.
Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, director of the organising committee of the fair said "We allotted land in the field outside the main building to set up some pavilions for furniture and electronics outlets. However, traders cancelled the allotment themselves and took stalls inside the main building,"
He also said that even the ground was prepared for them to build a 50 by 50 square foot pavilion.
"They said they would only display their products so we were forced to let them inside," added Iftekhar, who is also the secretary of the Export Development Bureau.