Two mega shopping malls in Dhaka have decided not to reopen on Sunday. Traders at some other major markets in Dhaka are also not sure about reopening due to an uncertainty over sales volume, health safety issues and limits of the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Many traders could not manage to acquire new stock of apparels and other products ahead of Eid.
Jamuna Future Park is one of the malls which will not be reopened before Eid.
Confirming it, Dr Alamgir Alam, director of the Jamuna Group, said, "The market will not be opened because of public health issues."
"Besides, most of the people might refrain from shopping in a large crowd. They may choose to shop online," he told The Business Standard.
"In fact, most shops in this market could not get new collections, which is another reason for keeping it closed," said Alamgir.
"Moreover, markets will be allowed to keep open from 10 am to 4 pm. But our customers used to come in the afternoon," he added.
The Bashundhara City Shopping Complex authorities have taken a similar decision.
Confirming the matter, Mohammad Abu Tayeb, media adviser to the Bashundhara Group, said, "As per a directive of Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, the market will remain closed until the coronavirus situation improves in the country."
Md Kamal Hossen, treasurer of Aziz Market Stall Owners and Traders Welfare Association, said, "Half of our sellers are in favor of not opening the market. But still we could not take any concrete decision yet."
"Workers of most of the stalls went home before the shutdown and have not returned yet," said Kamal.
He further said, "If we want to keep this market open, big safety measures (given by the police) have to be taken. Also the customers might not come amid the pandemic."
He said some stall owners wanted to open their shops as they have invested on new collections of products before the pandemic started.
"We will take a final decision regarding this on May 10 when all the leaders will be present" he added.
Shahin Hossen, a trader at the market, said, "There is no reason to open the market at this eleventh-hour as we have lost our wholesalers, who did most of our trading. They could not come to Dhaka due to the countrywide shutdown."
Dewan Aminul Islam, president of Dhaka New Market Traders Association, said "We have yet to make a final decision. We will decide it on Friday night after considering the opinion of all the shop owners and the executive committee."
"On Wednesday we asked them to reach a decision by Friday," he added.
"Police have urged the shop owners to ensure some security measures in a meeting on Wednesday. They also partially closed the entrance, and installed disinfectant tunnels in the rest of the area," said Dewan.
"However, the traders are uncertain whether they can make any profit by opening the shops", he added.
Any definite decision about opening the Mouchak Market could not be known too.
A shop owner at this market said, "I am not sure whether the market will open or not. But I may not open my shop as I have not collected a new stock of clothes since February."
"Many other shops are in the same condition as we witnessed a drastic fall in trading since then," he added.
Helal Uddin, president of the Bangladesh Shop Owners Association, said, "Shops which cannot take proper health safety measures for their employees and for the customers will not be opened as per our directive."
"Most of the traders cannot collect any new apparel ahead of Eid. So, opening stalls will not be profitable for them," said Helal, adding that, "There is also an uncertainty over how much goods will be sold in this situation. So, those who have invested in new products may not make any profit either."
"Therefore, we urged the medium and big shops in Dhaka, Narayanganj and Gazipur to keep their shops closed as these areas are novel coronavirus hotspots," said
Health experts have criticised the government's decision of opening shops, and said if the shopping malls are reopened, the coronavirus situation would deteriorate further.
Jewellry shops not to open before Eid-ul-Fitr
Gold businessmen have decided not to open any jewellry shop before Eid-ul-Fitr.
A press release signed by the Bangladesh Jewellers Samity's (Bajus) General Secretary Dilip Kumar Agarwala says that the association has taken this decision to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country.
The decision was taken considering the health risk of owners, workers and customers of shops, during a teleconference meeting for an emergency exchange of views arranged by the association's executive committee.
However, the Jewelry Samity said in the announcement that jewellers can keep shops open if they wish, but for a limited period and by maintaining social distancing and following all government directives and health guidelines.
But in that case, the jewelers themselves have to take full responsibility, and if any problem arises, Bajus will not be held responsible.
Also the press release urged the government to activate the announced stimulus package soon for small, medium businesses and gold artists, to save this age-old jewellry industry.