When the Covid-19 pandemic is eating up most of the business sectors in Bangladesh, retail sales of laptops, desktop computers and computer accessories have gone up by nearly 50 percent in Dhaka, according to industry leaders.
They also claim that the overall volume, however, has not increased because sales to the government and corporate entities – two major buyers of these products – have been low due to the pandemic.
According to sector insiders, the demand for laptops has increased more than that for desktop computers.
The most in-demand products right now are webcams, microphones, headphones and graphics cards, said Subrata Sharker, secretary general of the Computer City Centre Shop Owners Association.
According to industry players, the demand for these products has risen mostly because almost all educational institutions are running their teaching programmes online and also as most offices are following the "work from home" policy.
Multiplan Centre (Computer City Centre) on New Elephant Road in the capital is one of the biggest hubs for computer and computer accessories, with a retail market share of about 50 percent inside Dhaka.
While visiting the Multiplan Centre on Thursday, The Business Standard met a mother with her two children who had all come there to buy a new webcam.
"My two kids are students of a kindergarten school. They have to join through Zoom [videoconferencing app] in their class every day. We do not have any webcam and a good sound system. Today, I came here to buy these products," said the mother, Shirin Afroj.
Like Shirin, many other people are also crowding to different shops, wanting to upgrade their personal computers to make them more communication-friendly.
Kamrul Hasan, senior executive of sales and marketing at Star Tech and Engineering Ltd, said laptop sales have increased more as the device is more user-friendly in terms of communication because it has an in-built camera. So, users don't have to buy an additional camera or webcam.
The shop from its Multiplan Centre branch sold 125 laptops last month, much higher than the usual sales of 100 units, he also said.
"We also saw a sharp rise in retail sales of desktop computers. Last month, around 90-100 desktop computers were configured from our branch. Generally, we hardly sell 60-70 desktop computers per month," Kamruladded.
He informed The Business Standard that their sales to corporate offices did not increase at all during the same time. "Our vendors are businessmen too. Many of them across the country are unable to pay us as their business and offices have been hit hard by the pandemic."
Star Tech and Engineering Ltd has 11 showrooms countrywide and holds overall 20 percent market share in the computer business of Bangladesh, according to Kamrul.
While talking to The Business Standard, Bangladesh Computer Samity President Shahid Ul Munir said that the overall sales did not rise at all.
"I would rather say we are doing better than other sectors that are suffering badly owing to the pandemic," he said.
Previously, all the shops were closed for nearly 2-3 months. After the long shutdown, sales have not increased significantly, he said.
"The big buyers of our ICT products are government and corporate offices. But now, those sales are low. End users' purchase has increased as educational institutes are running classes online," he added.
He also said that a new challenge for the ICT sector has been added afresh. "As fewer cargo airlines are flying now, the carrying costs of our products have increased by almost 30 percent."