Mr. Rajib Sharma, Ediroial Asst. of The bdnewstimes. Be it at malls like Amin Shopping Centre, or budget buyers’ choice like Jahur Hawkers’ Market, below, the Eid shopping frenzy is yet to catch on among port city residents.
The alleys of Jahur Hawkers’ Market in the port city are never this quiet on the third week of Ramadan, particularly at night. The familiar sight of the market and the road in front teeming with shoppers is replaced by only a few strolling about even before midnight.
And it is not just the Hawkers’ Market; the iconic Biponi Bitan (New Market), Reazuddin Bazar at Station Road, Ameen Centre at Lalkhan Bazar, Akhtaruzzaman Centre at Agrabad and most of the major markets in the city seem to be dozing off just after 11:30pm, in stark contrast to previous years.
With one of the biggest religious festivals of the country only 10 days away, even Teri Bazar — the biggest wholesale market and the retailer of all types of clothes in the city — is yet to see proper flow of traders and Eid customers.
Md Sagir, president of Biponi Bitan Merchants’ Welfare Association said usually the shopping rush used to begin after tarawih prayer and continued till sehri, but this year customers are returning home before midnight.
“Many of them might have completed shopping before Ramadan sensing an escalation in price. But they wouldn’t be getting the dresses of latest design this way,” said an unsure Sagir.
On the other hand, Mohammad Yousuf, president of Ameen Centre Traders’ Association, said the popularisation of online shopping and decentralisation of markets were the reasons for the low turnout.
“Earlier, people from outside the city also used to come here for shopping. As a lot of markets have opened in the upazilas, customers now tend to shop there. Besides, many customers now prefer to order online, which has actually been a big worry for us,” said Yousuf.
However, the scenario at Mimi Super Market, Afmi Plaza, Sanmar Ocean City and outlets of fashion brand Aarong were somewhat different. Customers flow were normal at those places.
People preferring latest collections of local fashion brands are coming to shop at the outlets of Deshi Dosh, O2, Cat’s Eye, Westecs, Yellow and others at these malls.
“I like coming here as all types of brand showrooms are available, and the price is fixed,” said Mostafizur Rahman, a customer at Cat’s Eye.
Shirina Akhter, a housewife shopping at an outlet of Aarong, said she preferred going there as clothes for every family member can be found in one place.
Didar Mohammad Sadek, general secretary of Afmi Plaza Shop Owners’ Association, said customers preferring a branded wardrobe have kept the market alive.
“Most of the outlets and shops of different brands of clothing are situated at Afmi, Mimi and Sanmar. Higher-income class shoppers have no other alternative than shopping here. I have heard about the weak flow of customers in other malls. If the reputed brands began online service, we would also face the same condition,” said Sadek.
Besides, some customers complained that the price of products were unusually higher this year. Magistrates of the district administration fined two businesses at Chittagong Shopping Complex and Mimi Super Market in separate drives on Friday and Saturday, for selling clothes at high prices.
The drive will continue till the end of this month, so that customers are not charged exorbitant prices by the sellers this festive season, according to district administration sources.