Salah Uddin, owner of Zerin Collection in New Market, opened his shop after making all necessary preparations – disinfecting floor mat at the entrance and a bottle of hand sanitiser with a staff member for customers. He put on display various new dresses such as women's three-piece dresses and lehenga.
But it rained all night and the roads were now inundated, and there were almost no shoppers.
As city residents are now preferring to stay indoors unless it is necessary, the heavy rain in the last three days has added to the woes of the already pandemic-hit businesspeople in the capital.
After the 66-day coronavirus shutdown, they reopened their businesses and have dangled various discounts and offers on products to attract customers, but the rain is now playing spoilsport with them.
All markets and shopping malls including the New Market, Bashundhara City Shopping Complex, Eastern Plaza, Karnaphuli Garden City, Eastern Mollika and Rapa Plaza are hardly having any throng of buyers with most city streets now being waterlogged.
"I opened my shop a month before. Some customers came to the shop last week, but there was a very thin presence of buyers in the last three days because of rain," Salah Uddin said.
While talking to The Business Standard, Md Sabbir, owner of a cosmetic store in New Market, said he could keep his shop open till midnight every day during normal times, but he now has to close it at 7 am. There is hardly any customer coming to his shop these days, he added.
The New Market is the largest shopping mall in Dhaka for middle-class people in particular. During a visit, it was seen that from clothes, cosmetics, curtain fabrics and ornaments to crockeries and toys – all are available in the market. But the presence of buyers is feeble.
Khairul Bashar Siphon, president of the New Market Shop Owners and Businessmen's Association, told The Business Standard, "Buyers are usually not coming much to the market in fear of Covid-19 infection. We are trying to attract buyers with various discounts to reduce losses. However, the number of buyers and visitors has decreased for the last three days due to rain."
Almost all areas in the capital went under water owing to continuous rainfall for the two days – on Monday and Tuesday. Alleys and even main roads were waterlogged. City residents in many neighbourhoods had to wade through knee-deep water to reach their destinations. Rainwater also got stagnant in front of residences, offices, courts and shops. The sufferings of city people were immense because of the continuous heavy shower that started from Wednesday morning.
The rain also has affected sales at Bashundhara City Shopping Complex. All shops in the country's largest shopping centre are passing an idle time with the absence of customers.
Md Khokon, manager at Lotto, a footwear brand, on Wednesday afternoon, said, "Not even 10 buyers came to their showroom in the entire day. Thousands of visitors would come to our outlet daily this time ahead of Eid."
Liton, a salesman at Infinity Megamall that has given up to 50 percent off on products, shared a similar experience.
While visiting the entire mall, it was found that there is a thin presence of buyers at Apex, Cats Eye, DesiDosh, Aarong and other branded shops. Some have a handful of buyers who were browsing through different items.
The same situation was prevailing in shopping malls in Bailey Road, Dhanmondi, Kakrail, Naya Paltan, Shantinagar, Moghbazar, Farmgate and other areas in Dhaka.
Meanwhile, the weather forecast said the monsoon is active over Bangladesh, and a low is prevailing in the North Bay. As a result, heavy to very heavy rains have been occurring in different parts of the country for the last three days. This trend of rain may continue till Thursday.
Meteorologist Ruhul Quddus said, "There will be intermittent rain till noon on Thursday. It may slow down in the evening."
Businesses also affected in Chattogram
Sales have dropped in Khatunganj, the country's largest consumer goods market in Chattogram, due to heavy rain.
The traders said their businesses have come down to 50 percent compared to those in usual times. Workers are now passing idle time because of low supply of goods. Besides, other businesses in the port city also remain stagnant.
Suleiman Badshah, owner of Taiyabiya Traders, an importing organisation in Khatunganj, told The Business Standard that their sales have already declined due to coronavirus. The onset of rain has added to their woes with hardly any customers in the market at present.
There are about 4,000 business organisations in Khatunganj. Although the spice market stays abuzz with customers before Eid-ul-Adha every year, this time, the market remains totally quiet.
Syed Chagir Ahmed, general secretary at Khatunganj Trade and Industries Association, said many areas in around 25 districts of the country have been submerged. That is why the supply of goods to those areas from Khatunganj remain stopped, resulting in many consumer products piling up in warehouses here.
Sales of other products have also witnessed a sharp decline in the port city.
Alamgir Hossain, owner of MR Fashion, a clothing shop, in Sanmar Ocean City, said, "There is hardly any customer coming to the shopping mall due to downpours. I expected a good sale of punjabi before Eid-ul-Adha, but there is absolutely no sale."
It has been raining continuously in Chattogram since last Sunday. Ujjwal Kanti Pal, assistant meteorologist at the Patenga Meteorological Office, said heavy rain might continue till Thursday, then, it will gradually decrease.