Every year before Eid, low-income people in the capital rush to roadside shops for making purchases that they have planned and saved money for throughout the year.
This year, they seem to have disappeared. Instead, people from the middle-class are buying items from there.
According to several businessmen, sales before Eid this year have been less than 20% of the pre-pandemic time. The main reasons, as they suggest, are that public vehicles are off the road amid the ongoing lockdown extended to 5 May from 14 April, and a large section of the city dwellers have gone to their village homes.
Quite large crowds were seen on Sunday at popular roadside markets at New Market and Science Lab, in Elephant Road, Paltan, Malibagh and Gulistan but sales were very low.
"Mostly low-income groups and very few middle-class people used to come to buy items from us. Now those who come are mostly from the middle-class," said Mamun who was awaiting customers, with shirts on a rickshaw van at New Market.
Daily sales have been reduced by three-fourth, he added.
A garment worker, Runa Khanam, who went to the market for shopping, said, "How will you buy goods if you do not have money! I came here only to buy some necessary items before Eid."
Khokon Mia, who sells products for children on a footpath near Baitul Mukarram market, said he sold products of Tk 10,000 daily, down from Tk 30,000 -Tk 35,000 before the pandemic. The little profit he made after the cost went to buy iftar.
Rafiqul Islam, who sells Punjabis, said he had a daily spending of Tk 500, including transport cost. "It is difficult to bear the everyday expenditures with the profit I make from selling Punjabis of Tk 10,000."
Another seller Saydul Islam said he could hardly make sales of Tk 12,000 whereas it used to be around Tk 50,000 a day. "Public vehicles are not running. People travelling in private cars would not come to roadside stalls for shopping, would they?"
Zubair, who drove his motorcycle from the city's Signboard area to Gulistan, said he had gone there to shop only for children before the festival.
Another customer Laboni Akhter said, "I used to buy gifts for all my family members but this year I am here to get presents for children only."
Her husband lost his job in the pandemic. Without his income during the ongoing lockdown, the family has been borrowing money to meet the basic needs.