Consumers have changed their spending pattern due to the pandemic. They are buying more essentials and have cut down on luxuries
In February this year, Bina Ahmed was planning on buying an LED television, the kind with a big screen and internet connection.
She likes to watch YouTube videos but her phone's small screen hurt her eyes.
Since her retirement, Bina has been living on rent from her building in Mirpur. Part of her pension was invested in its construction.
Half of the building is now empty because the tenants left when the pandemic hit Bangladesh. "My income has come down to less than half, I do not think I will have new tenants anytime soon. The only luxurious thing I bought in the last few months was a salwar suit from an online shop. That I also would not have bought, just got a bit carried away by advertisements on social media."
Like Bina, consumers have changed their spending pattern due to the coronavirus pandemic.
They are buying more of regular products like rice, flour, oil, frozen food as well as hygiene products such as soap and liquid antiseptic. The pandemic also prompted many consumers to cut down on luxuries.
Nurul Amin, a resident of Banasree, has two teenaged daughters. Before the shutdown was imposed, he stocked his refrigerator with frozen food.
"I wanted to make sure the children had enough snacks and that my wife did not have to go through the trouble of cooking for every meal. I bought drumsticks, sausages, nuggets, samosas, wontons and parathas. We also ate a lot of muri (puffed rice) with chanachur."
Frozen food sales had a jump during the pandemic.
Meena Bazar said that their frozen food sales increased by 25-29 percent whereas Jhotpot, a frozen food brand by Pran-RFL, said that their sales increased by 50-60 percent.
Abdur Razzak, manager of the Shwapno outlet in Farmgate, said sales of essential kitchen items like rice, pulse, oil, flour, fish, meat, vegetables; packaged items like cookies, chanachur, chips, cake, puffed rice, noodles, spices, ready-mix for biryani and khichuri have increased during the pandemic. As have frozen food like chicken nugget, samosa and paratha.
Sales of ice cream, and beverage like carbonated drinks, imported juice and milk decreased at the beginning of the shutdown. They are however picking up now.
A student at Dhaka University, Sayeeb bought a trimmer from Daraz to cut his hair as well as his father's during the shutdown.
After the first one was broken, he ordered another one. "I would trim my father's hair, and then he would trim mine. One time, we both became bald to save all the hassle. But none of us had the courage to go to a salon."
Consumers are buying more personal care products including soap, liquid hand wash, shampoo and tissue paper, and they prefer purchasing these items physically from the outlet.
Makeup products like lipstick and eyeliner, specific shampoo and hair conditioner are among the products experiencing increased sales.
Sales of bathroom and room cleaners, laundry soap, aerosol, and liquid antiseptic have also increased.
During the pandemic, consumers are also buying more hair trimmers, blenders and headphones.
Ahmed Shoyeb Iqbal, general manager (brand, communication, e-commerce) of Meenabazar said, "People's incomes have reduced which is why, in general, sales of non-essential products have decreased."
Meenabazar operates an online platform called Meenaclick.
Shoyeb said, "Initially, after the shutdown was imposed, sales through our online platform increased. But now it is decreasing as people are going out more."
This year in May, the Center for Enterprise and Society (CES) at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) carried out an online survey on 651 working professionals above the age of 25 whose monthly income ranged between Tk40,000 to more than Tk250,000 per month.
The survey revealed how the pandemic affected the participants' spending pattern before Eid-ul-Fitr.
The consumer pulse survey showed that at least 84 percent of respondents were cutting back on spending and at least 67 percent were experiencing drop in income.
Isar Kabir, a fitness trainer in the city, said, "I occasionally spend on food, not on anything else. I used to take private classes before the pandemic, but I do not anymore, so my income has reduced. I do not get out of the house as much as before, so I do not have travel expense."
Some consumers are recycling to cut back on consumption.
Sarker Riti, a stock broker at BRAC EPL said, "I am saving more and trying to spend less. I stopped unnecessary shopping and only buy essentials. I have started recycling things at home, going through stacks of old things to see if I can reuse them. I even cut toothpaste tubes in half to get the most out of them!"
Shayantani Twisha, head of PR, Media and Communication at Daraz Online Shopping said that during the pandemic, the most in demand Daraz products are health care and grooming products, sanitisation items, groceries, office chairs, fitness equipment and small/medium kitchen appliances.
She said, "Purchasing products from online platforms has increased significantly due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Daraz has seen more than three times growth in new buyers."