Research on travel behaviour changes caused by the Covid-19
- Research conducted among 572 people
- More people shifting online for official activities
- Use of public transports declined
- Online shopping increased by 165% compared to the pre-Covid-19 period
- 85% of e-commerce users are between the ages of 18-34
- 80% of buyers are from Dhaka, Gazipur, and Chattogram
In Bangladesh and across the globe, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a deadly as well as puzzling time for everyone. To cope with the new normal and prevent exposure to the virus, more and more people turned to online platforms to cater to their daily necessities.
As a result, official activities like attending meetings and sharing documents, and shopping using online platforms have increased dramatically in recent times.
A research entitled "Exploring the travel behaviour changes caused by the Covid-19 Crisis: A case study for a developing country" led by Professor Dr Md Hadiuzzaman of the Accident Research Institute (ARI), has found that online activities among working people have increased by 1,000% amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The research was conducted among 572 people across the country.
It finds that people who were used to going to the office now try to complete their official activities virtually. As a result, use of public transports has declined.
According to the research, online shopping activities have increased by 165% compared to the pre-Covid-19 period and people's visit to shopping malls has also decreased by 84%.
The research shows that female shoppers have increased by 43% from 12% and male shoppers have increased by 14% from 5%.
The latest research also reveals that turning to online options for grocery shopping has increased by 7%. Telemedicine beneficiaries have witnessed an increase of 31%.
As per the research, around 85% of e-commerce users are between the ages of 18-34.
Talking to The Business Standard, Professor Dr Md Hadiuzzaman said online activities have increased as people are compelled to stay home due to the pandemic and had to perform their official and other responsibilities using digital platforms.
Before the pandemic, only 5% male and 10% female used to work using online platforms but now the ratio has increased by 10% and 45% respectively.
Even though the online activities increased in all divisions, Dhaka and Chattogram top the list as the people of the two divisions worked more online compared to other divisions. People worked the lowest using online platforms in Khulna and Barishal.
According to the research, 80% of e-commerce buyers are from Dhaka, Gazipur, and Chattogram. Of these, 35% are from Dhaka, 39% from Chattogram and 15% from Gazipur.
Tasvir-ul Islam, managing director and CEO of Quasem Industries Ltd told TBS that his company used to hold face-to-face meetings before the Covid-19 pandemic but now the company holds all the meetings virtually.
"We now hold meetings virtually. It is time-saving and safe. This process is not bad at all," he added.
Nasima Akter Nisha, president of Women and E-commerce Forum (WE), told TBS that through their organisation, some 4 lakh women entrepreneurs have entered the market since the pandemic hit Bangladesh last year.
"More women are now interested in working and conducting business online. They now get more response than the pre-Covid-19 period.
She added that the monthly turnover of her organization was below Tk50 lakh in March 2020, which is now about Tk3 crore.
"Not only businesses but also our 11 lakh members and their families now use online platforms for most of their daily activities and official purposes," Nisha said.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, some five lakh people will be employed in Bangladesh's e-commerce platforms in the next five years.
As per the data from the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-Cab), the growth of online sales has increased by 70-80% during the pandemic compared to the pre-Covid times and the e-commerce or online shopping market has crossed Tk6,000 crore all over the country.
However, the respondents in the research showed dissatisfaction over Internet speed in the country.
Speaking to TBS, Professor Hadiuzzaman said the respondents of the survey faced low speed and disruption during their online activities.
"The respondents reported facing problems with low Internet speed. They said they can work more smoothly if Internet speed is high," he said.
Over the last two and a half decades, the Internet market has boomed 4,000 times in Bangladesh but operators still cannot keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for high-speed bandwidth. Consumers bore the brunt of this slow but costly connectivity especially amid the pandemic when Internet usage marked a surge.
Broadband and mobile Internet costs in Bangladesh are higher than those in any South Asian country, although speed is among the slowest and service equally poor.
According to a Cable.co.uk report, Bangladesh has the third-worst broadband speed of the South Asian average.
The country's Internet bandwidth capacity has also increased to 2,400gbps through submarine cables. Currently, there are 11 crore internet subscribers in the country and the highest bandwidth consumption of 1800Gbps was reached last December.
According to stakeholders' data, Internet consumption has increased by 2.94 crore times over the years.