Shops and shopping malls have been open for the last five days after closure due to the lockdown and fashion house owners in the capital are somewhat happy with the sales as around 60% of their Baishakh sales target has been met.
The traders said the sale in the last few days would somehow help them recover the losses caused by the Covid-19 but they are still anxious about the sale in the run-up to the Eid-ul-Fitr.
The markets in the capital were closed for one week due to the lockdown and were allowed to reopen last Friday in the face of movements of traders in various areas of the capital.
Despite the rise in infections and deaths due to Covid-19, shops, shopping malls and pavement shops in Dhaka city were crowded with shoppers on Tuesday. Yet, it was less than that on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
The traders claim that most of the low- and middle-income buyers had already finished their shopping a couple of days ago and left the capital for their village homes.
As per the government directives, it was decided to keep the shops open from 9am to 5pm in compliance with strict hygiene rules but due to the crowd of buyers, there was a tendency to disregard the hygiene rules.
There were arrangements for antiseptic spray in some shops but there was hardly any tendency to adhere to social distancing.
At Bashundhara Shopping Mall, a shopper Twanni Saha told The Business Standard (TBS) that health is the first priority. "So I am doing shopping on a small scale because if we can survive we can shop in the future."
Rafiqul Haque, who came to Gausia Market, told TBS, "I am buying Eid clothes for the children thinking that the lockdown might be extended. Although I am afraid of Covid-19 infection, I have come out in need."
Compared to large shopping malls and markets, there were more shoppers on pavement shops selling products at a cheaper rate in the New Market area.
Sajjad, a cloth seller on the sidewalk in the New Market area, told TBS that there were crowds like Eid on Sunday and Monday. However, sales are normal.
Traders fear that if the lockdown period is extended and the shops are not opened before Eid, they will face huge losses like last year.
Abdur Rashed, an official of Shila Fashion in New Market, told TBS that the last few days have been like Eid. Children's dresses sold the most.
"However, if the sale is not good in Ramadan, we will have to face a big loss," he added.
Rajib Hossain, a sales associate at Grameen Uniqlo, told TBS, "We have sold 60% of our target before Pahela Baishakh but if we cannot sell products in Ramadan, our suppliers will suffer."
However, the business was not even satisfactory for all traders.
Biplob Saha, owner of Bishwo Rang, told TBS that their Boishakh sales have not been good and they will not be able to meet even the operation cost.
Aarong CEO Ashraful Alam told TBS that they sold 60% of the target whereas there was no sale at all at this time last year.
"However, the artisans who work with us will face the biggest loss if there is a slump in the sale before Eid. About 80% of Eid products have come into our hands already," he added.
CROWD AT ATMS, BANKS, KITCHEN MARKETS
A day before the strict lockdown starts, ATM booths, banks, kitchen markets, grocery stores in the capital witnessed a huge crowd as people were seen storing their daily essentials.
On Tuesday, people were seen in a rush to withdraw cash from different banks in the capital. The cash withdrawals were several times higher than deposits or payment of utility bills.
Bank officials struggled to cope with the pressure of clients and health rules were ignored due to the extra crowd in many branches. However, the client's temperature was measured with thermal thermometers at the entrance of the banks.
According to bank officials, compared to other days of the week, a long queue of clients was seen at the beginning of bank transactions on Tuesday. Many people wanted to enter the bank without following the hygiene rules. However, no one was allowed to enter without wearing masks.
"Bank transactions will be closed during the lockdown, so customers crowded the bank today [Tuesday]. I have not seen such a crowd in the last few months. We will serve until 3 pm," said Islami Bank Official Afzal Hossain.
The scenario was the same in different ATM booths of Dhaka. More hygiene rules were being maintained at the ATM booths than at the banks. Limited customers are allowed to enter the booths at a time. Besides, disinfectants were being applied to the hands and feet before entering.
Meanwhile, buyers have crowded the capital's various kitchen markets, grocery stores from this morning to buy daily necessities following the announcement of a week-long strict lockdown starting from Wednesday and the first day of the holy month Ramadan in mind.
On Tuesday morning, a huge crowd of buyers was seen in the capital's Karwan Bazar and New Market area. Most of the people in the markets were seen violating the hygiene rules.
Along with the crowds in the markets, there were many private cars, CNG and rickshaws along with public transport on the roads of Banglamotor, Kawran Bazar, Science lab, Moghbazar, Paltan and other important places in the capital.
Moreover, some buses including BRTC were seen carrying extra passengers without following the hygiene rules.