There was a noticeable rush of shoppers at the capital's New Market, Gausia, and Bashundhara City Shopping Complex on the weekend. A significant number of vehicles were also on the road near New Market and the Dhanmondi – Mirpur area, leading to traffic jams.
Correspondents of this newspaper, while visiting the city's shopping centres on Friday, noticed that people were wearing masks. However, no one was maintaining social distance.
Habiba Akhter came from Jurain to shop at Gausia Market with her family. When asked why they had come to such a crowded area, she said, "I could not shop for anyone last year. So, this year, we have put on our masks and have come here."
Akhter said that her family was trying to avoid gatherings and wanted to return home before sunset.
Asif Rahman, a shopkeeper at Dolon Fabrics, said, "Since the morning, we have sold goods worth Tk30,000. I hope sales will increase when public transports start to operate."
Meanwhile, most shoppers are making their way to places where they can purchase products at cheaper prices. As such, New Market and Gausia have been witnessing a significant rush of buyers.
Saiful Islam, who works for a private firm, came to purchase shoes for his daughter at the Bata showroom near the Bata signal area in the capital. He said that there are no special plans for Eid shopping yet.
"My daughter wants new shoes for Eid and so we have come to get her a pair today. Bata's products are fairly cheap and that is why we have come here," he added.
Monir Hossain, owner of Suranjana Garments at Mouchak Market, said that before the pandemic, people used to come shopping during the day and take a break from shopping when it was time for iftar and get food from restaurants. But this time, they cannot do that.
"Many people come to shop after midday and leave before iftar. Even if people come after sunset, they do not have much time to shop as it is then time for shops to close. I think if the markets can stay open longer, sales will increase," Hossain added.
Abdul Karim, owner of Saree Mela at Dhanmondi Hawkers' Market, said that even though his business is not necessarily bad, it is not sufficient as he has six employees to take care of.
"We cannot keep our shops open at night. If the authorities extended the closing hour, it would benefit both customers and sellers," he added.
Talking to The Business Standard, Dewan Aminul Islam, president of the New Market Businessmen's Association, said that Gausia market always attracts customers as products are comparatively cheap there. He said that sales at the footpath shops are also good. Clothing items and cosmetics are in high demand, he added.
About maintaining social distancing while shopping, he said that both shopkeepers and customers need to cooperate to ensure that the requirement is followed.
"We do not allow customers to enter the store without face masks, but the moment they are outside the shop, they remove the masks or place them under the chin. I think that in order to control this, the administration needs to conduct regular patrols," he added.
Shahadat Hossain Shimanto of the clothing store Gentle Park in Bashundhara City said that products worth about Tk1.5 lakh had been sold till afternoon.
"This time of the day usually has the most rush. Sales have increased but we cannot keep the shops open for long," he added.
President of Bangladesh Shop Owners' Association Helal Uddin said that most people cannot come to the markets as the movement of public transport is suspended.
About current shopping trends, Uddin said, "No one is purchasing fancy clothes at the moment. Almost everyone is buying necessary items."
Speaking on the current business situation in the country, he said, "It would not be wise to make any judgement just by looking at the sales now going on at New Market and Gausia. We have to consider the condition of businessmen all over the country."