Traders of the footwear markets in major cities across the country witnessed a last moment rush of Eid shoppers at the end of Ramadan.
On Saturday, shopping malls all over the country including the capital were swarmed by Eid shoppers mostly interested in apparel, footwear and jewellery products. Even the salesmen of the street shops were seen struggling to handle customers.
Traders said the apparel market was invigorated by customers at the beginning of Ramadan. But, the footwear and jewellery markets started to see more buyers in the second half of Ramadan.
Eid-ul-Fitr is likely to be celebrated across the country on 3 May. With a few days ahead of the largest religious festival of Muslims, shopping is going on full scale from morning till midnight.
Most people prefer shoes to match the new clothes on Eid day. On Saturday, traders were delighted as markets in different parts of the capital including Elephant Road, New Market, Chandni Chawk, Gausia, Bashundhara City, Mouchak, Nurjahan market, were filled with buyers.
Mohammad Mehdi, in-charge of Bata showroom in Bashundhara City, told The Business Standard, "We are selling products like the pre-pandemic era. The last 10 days of Ramadan are the optimum time for selling shoes."
Mahdi Ali, a 12-year-old boy, came to shop in Bashundhara City with his father. Mahdi's father Mahbub Ali had four boxes of shoes in his hands. He said, "I came from Keraniganj to Bashundhara City as a variety of products are available under one roof. I bought some cosmetics items and shoes for my wife and kid."
Apex Footwear Ltd has one of the largest showrooms in South Asia at Bashundhara City Shopping Mall. On Friday, the showroom saw huge buyers with long queues at each counter.
Apex Footwear Ltd Managing Director (MD) Syed Nasim Manzur told TBS, "We had new collections for Eid. Besides, the products that were in stock due to the two-year pandemic closure have also been sold out."
"However, Eid sales like the pre-pandemic time have not recouped yet. Hopefully, we will get there before Eid," he said.
Nasim Manzur also mentioned that business was slow in the first 10 to 12 days of Ramadan, but picked up momentum. Because of the summer heat, most buyers are choosing air-conditioned markets.
Kulsum Begum, a buyer at Mouchak market, told TBS, "After buying clothes, I bought matching shoes for myself. Now, it is time to buy shoes for my family members."
Dhaka's Elephant Road is famous for its diverse collection of footwear products. This market also contains various well-known footwear brands.
Traders in Elephant Road had to sustain under immense pressure from tens of thousands of shoppers yesterday, and the influx of buyers will continue till Eid.
A majority of the shoppers were youths. Girls were seen buying cosmetics and jewellery items along with Eid clothes while boys were interested in Punjabi, shirts, and shoes.
The Aarong showroom in Moghbazar was packed with shoppers on Saturday afternoon. Meherunnesa Begum, a saleswoman of Aarong, told TBS that their sales were much higher than expected this Eid season.
According to traders, demand for long Punjabi is high among elderly people while semi-long Punjabi is more popular among youngsters.
Deshi Dosh's Admin Sarifuzzaman Rana told TBS, "After almost two years, our sales have been up to the mark. We are very happy."
Similar scenarios were observed in various markets outside of Dhaka.
In Chattogram, footwear showrooms and street stores were thronged by shoppers. The vast areas of New Market, Agrabad and the GEC junction were flocked by buyers of all ages.
Lower and lower-middle class shoppers are hurrying to buy new shoes at the last moment.
Street shops are selling shoes starting from Tk200 to Tk1,500. Although the demand for sandals is high, sellers said that sneakers and shoes are also being sold in large amounts.
Md Shakil, manager of Bay Emporium's OR Nizam Road branch in Chattogram, told TBS, "I was very disappointed with the sale at the beginning of Ramadan. But sales have surged significantly since the 22nd of Ramadan."
Mohammad Monir Uddin, GEC branch manager of Dhaka Boot Burn Ltd, told The Business Standard, "People are in a festive mood to buy clothes and shoes at the end of Ramadan. So our sales are good compared to the last two years."
Tapan Sheel, a footwear vendor on the city's Agrabad sidewalk, told The Business Standard that sales are high as people receive salaries and bonuses at the end of the month.
In Riazuddin Bazar of the city at noon, cosmetics traders were struggling to tackle customers. Sales worker Ariful Islam told TBS that apart from apparel and footwear, women buy a lot of cosmetics during Eid.
In Barisal city, shoe sales are soaring before Eid. People were browsing across shops in search of their favourite products.
Both the branded and non-branded shops were flocked by customers at Katoatti Road, Sadar Road and Hospital road. These three roads are the main selling points of footwear.
"The sale has been gradually increasing for at least a week. Good number of customers are coming to our shop to find their shoes or sandals. I have sold around fifty to hundred pairs today." Said Al Mamun, a shopkeeper of Katpati.
"I have enough stock, retailers are regularly contacting me for more shoes. But I could not provide due to limited manufacturing," said engineer Amir Hossain, the owner of Alex Shoes in Barishal.
Sales are satisfactory and my products are being bought and sold in every town of Barisal division, he added.
"We open early in the morning and close late at night. Our sales have increased by ten times recently, said Abdul Jalil, the salesman of Kohinur Shoes, one of the leading shoe sellers in the city.
Footwear produced in local factories are selling well in Brahmanbaria with well-known brands.
There are about 100 shops in Brahmanbaria district town. There are also showrooms of various famous brands. Normally, the shoe market gets crowded after the 20th Ramadan.
Local brand Ligani shoes gained huge popularity in Brahmanbaria, especially among boys.
Ashikur Rahman, one of the buyers, said he is a big fan of Ligani shoes. Their prices are much lower than that of the famous brands, and shoes are much more durable.
Farhadul Islam, proprietor of Ligani Shoes store on New Cinema Hall Road in the city, said sales at the store have been going as expected since the 20th of Ramadan. He hoped that the upward trend would continue till Eid.
Meanwhile, shoes worth at least Tk25 crore are being marketed in different parts of the country on the occasion of Eid from 100 footwear factories in Brahmanbaria.
Footwear manufacturers are hoping to make up for the business losses that have occurred in the last two years due to the Coronavirus pandemic, said Md Hanif, general secretary of the District PO Footwear Association.
All shops in the city of Rajshahi are hosting larger than expected crowds. However, buyers complained that the price is higher than last time.
Tareq, owner of Lucky Shoe store in Saheb Bazar, said the price of each Chinese product has gone up by an average of Tk200. As a result, we are forced to sell at higher prices.
According to traders, there are more than a hundred footwear shops in the Bogura town. Jaleshwaritala, known as the elite market of the city, contains shops of all famous footwear brands.
Bata showroom Manager Syed Johnny said, "This time there is no fear of Covid-19 among the people. Everyone is shopping for something. However, this year buyers are not looking for shoes priced over Tk2,000."
Qayyum Ahmed, owner of Janata Shoes in the Zindabazar area of Sylhet city, said business has been good for the last 3-4 days.
Bangladesh Shop Owners Association President Helal Uddin told TBS, "Sales in this Eid season were 20-30% more than expected. Around Tk1,75,000 crore worth of products, including apparel, have been sold in the entire month of Ramadan."
Our Chattogram, Barisal, Brahmanbaria, Rajshahi, Bogura, Sylhet correspondents also contributed to preparing this report