The sale of vermicelli (semai) is yet to gain momentum in the capital although Eid-ul-Fitr is knocking at the door.
Shopkeepers, however, are hoping that sales of vermicelli and sugar will go up two days before Eid. To meet demand, they have kept different types of the delicacy in their shops.
Fewer people are coming to the stores because of Covid-19 and many have headed for their village homes, traders say.
Talking to buyers and shopkeepers at Karwan Bazar, Hatirpool, Kathalbagan Bazar on Tuesday , here is what this correspondent got.
Md Akhtar Hossain of New General Store at Karwan Bazar said vermicelli is selling less at this time this year. They are selling half as much as last Ramadan.
People do not have a lot of money in hand and many have gone to their villages for Eid. And those who have decided to stay in Dhaka for Eid, have not started coming to shops in any significant numbers yet, he added.
Anwar Hossain Kazi, shopkeeper of Kazi Store in Kathalbagan Bazar, said he has been running the shop here for 25 years. Earlier, people used to gather to buy semai-sugar before Eid. There is no crowd now. Compared to that pre-Covid period, the sales have decreased 70 percent.
However, large grocery stores have seen a crowd of shoppers. Staffers of Mozammel Store in Hatirpool Bazar are struggling to entertain the buyers.
At Hatirpool bazar, this correspondent saw buyers buying various brands of lachcha semai (a special type of vermicelli), including Bonoful, Bombay, ACI, Phulkali, Madhuban and Kulson. 200 gram packets were selling for Tk35.
At Karwan Bazar, 400 grams of Kishoyan brand Lachcha Semai sold for Tk100, Bonoful 800 gram for Tk170, Bombay 800 gram packet for Tk220, and Alauddin (500 grams) for Tk180. 200 gram packets of different brands sold for Tk30.
Non-pack vermicelli was selling for Tk60 per kilogram while lachcha semai for Tk130 per kilogram at Karwan Bazar.
Saiful Islam, who bought non-pack semai and lachcha semai at Karwan Bazar, told The Business Standard (TBS) that he does not feel good celebrating Eid without semai, and because packaged semai costs more, he bought loose semai.
Md Raihan of Rakib General Store in Karwan Bazar told TBS that vermicelli started selling a bit more as only a few days are left for Eid, yet the demand is still very low.
Md Fahim of Hamid Store said vermicelli worth Tk5,000 was sold every day during Eid-ul-Fitr last year. Many also bought it to give as relief to the poor which is not happening as much this year.
Spice markets also yet to gain momentum
The sale of spices is dull this time although the demand usually increases during Eid. Spice traders at Karwan Bazar said they are selling half as much as during last year's Eid season.
Moktar Hossain, the owner of Messrs Rosa Enterprise, a spice shop at the market, said they had a daily turnover of Tk50,000 during Ramadan before the Covid-19 outbreak. Now they hardly sell spices worth Tk20,000 daily.
Cumin is going for Tk300-Tk370 per kilogram, cardamom for Tk2,200-Tk3,500, cinnamon for Tk370-Tk380, cloves for Tk850-Tk900, black pepper for Tk550-Tk600, raisins for Tk230 to Tk280, almonds for Tk570 and cashew nuts for Tk620-Tk800, and alu bukhara for Tk450 a kilogram.
Sales of pulao rice have increased on the occasion of Eid. Non-pack rice is selling for Tk95 per kg at Hatirpool market and various brands of packaged Pulao rice are selling for Tk110 -Tk115 per kilogram, depending on quality.
Other Eid products
At Hatirpool bazar, the price of 500 grams of milk of Marks brand is Tk295, a Diploma brand 500 gram milk packet costs Tk295, and Dano 500 gram is Tk325. Milk Vita liquid milk is Tk75 and Aarong liquid milk Tk70 per liter. Diploma powdered milk Tk610 per kg, Marks brand Tk620 per kg.
Non-pack sugar is Tk70, packaged sugar Tk75, and red sugar Tk85 per kg.
During visits to Karwan Bazar, Hatirpool bazar and Kathalbagan bazar in the capital, beef was seen being sold for Tk600 per kg.
Mohammad Rezwan, who came to Hatirpool bazar to buy beef, was annoyed as the meat sellers started calling around him.
A shopkeeper said they call the buyer as there were fewer buyers in the market.
Beef is going for Tk600 per kilogram at Hatirpool bazar. Mutton sells for Tk900 per kilogram, broiler chickens for Tk170 a kilo, layer chickens for Tk260, and Pakistani cock chickens for Tk320 per kilogram.
In Hatirpool bazar, local onions are selling for Tk40 per kg and ginger for Tk120-140 per kg on Tuesday.
The price of a five-litre bottle of branded bottled soybean oil ranging from 640 to 670. Bashundhara oil Tk640 five liters, Teer oil Tk650, Rupchanda oil Tk670.