Tania Garments of Gauchia Market in Dhaka sold ladies' clothes worth at least Tk2 crore during Eid in 2019. This year, till the 27 Ramadan, the sale is Tk30-35 lakh as there are very few buyers.
On the other hand, the sale is enormous in small shops or sidewalks around. Within a few days when the market reopened after 15 Ramadan, there were big sales on the sidewalk shops of the New Market and Gauchia area. The crowd of buyers amid Covid-19 surprised all quarters.
Kamal Parvez, proprietor of Tania Garments, said that the middle and lower-middle-class who come to his showroom at normal times are now crowding the sidewalk shops. As a result, his sales have dropped significantly.
"Of the clothes we sell, relatively low-priced products are being sold more," he added.
Eid shopping trends of the upper class has also changed and traders rarely see buyers in foreign-product markets and big brand shops in Gulshan, Banani and Jamuna Future Park.
They are flocking to local brands including Aarong, Yellow, Desi-Dash, Anjans, Kay Craft, Le Reve, Infinity, Gentle Park, which were popular among the middle class. These fashion houses are selling more than expected along with very good online sales.
Hadi Chowdhury, Head of Retail Operations, Yellow, a Beximco Concern, said that so far, medium-range garments have been sold more. Luxury and lower-end clothing sales are low.
He said there may be either of the two reasons behind this – the rich may be shopping less or the rich are buying middle-class clothes.
Economists believe that as income of middle and lower-middle classes has decreased, they are opting for lower-end clothing.
Ahsan H Mansur, executive director, the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, said that the upper class is not coming out of home much due to health risks. Again, even if someone goes to the market, they are buying medium-end clothes instead of high-end products.
On the other hand, due to declining income, the buyers of medium-end clothing have always opted for the footpath or hawkers' market.
On Monday, several shopping malls including Pink City Shopping Complex, Navana Tower, Shoppers World, Dhaka Republic, Rupayan Golden Age were visited in Gulshan. Most of the shopping centres are not crowded and vendors are frustrated with the collection of foreign clothes including exclusive types of shirts, punjabi, three-pieces, saris, lehengas for Eid.
DIVA Bangladesh has elite fashion showrooms at Bashundhara Shopping Complex in Dhaka, Pink City in Gulshan, Polwel Super Market Shopping Centre in Uttara and Tropical Aladdin.
Ashikur Rahman, manager of the company's Pink City branch, said the sale is less than 40% compared to the usual Eid sale, and those are from low-priced products.
On Tuesday, there were very few buyers in Bashundhara Shopping Centre, Motaleb Plaza, Eastern Plaza, New Market, Chandni Chowk, Gauchia, Nur Mansion, Chandrima Market and several other shopping centres such as Gentle Park.
Abdur Razzak, sales manager, Sari Bazar, Bashundhara Shopping Centre, said, "Sales are very low compared to 2019. Buyers are not coming even though all the arrangements have been made to sell according to the hygiene rules."
SM Rashidul Islam, who works in a government company, usually buys from brands shops for Eid but this year he has bought clothes for relatives from pavement shops. He has also bought middle-end clothes from Aarong.
Mohammad Helal Uddin, president of the Bangladesh Shop Owners' Association, said there are at least 3.5 lakh wholesale and several lakh retail shops across the country. On the occasion of Eid, more than Tk1,00,000 crore is transacted in these shops. This time too there was preparation but most traders, except for a few brands and sidewalk stalls, did not find buyers.
Shahin Ahmed, president of the Bangladesh Fashion Designers Association and owner of the Anjans showroom, said that fashion brands including Aarong, Yellow, Desi-Dash are selling clothes in compliance with hygiene rules. Since there is a lot of space in the showroom, they are selling at a safe distance compared to general shops.
Impact of Covid-19 on the lower class and lower-middle-class is also reflected in various studies.
Compared to November 2019, in the four districts surveyed in November 2020, the income of employees has decreased by 70%, according to a survey by the South Asian Network on Economic Modelling. ActionAid Bangladesh said the income of 28% people remained unchanged while that of 2% increased.
Evidence of declining income of people is also found in online shopping.
Abrar Hossain, chief marketing officer of the country's largest e-commerce Daraz, said sales are a bit higher than usual. However, less expensive products are being sold more than luxury products this Eid.
He also said that there are not many orders outside of the daily necessities.