Pabna traders yet to get expected Eid sales
"Most female customers usually buy cosmetics along with their new dresses, but this year, most of them have cut cosmetic shopping as the prices of dresses and other necessaries have increased"
After enduring two years of coronavirus-induced losses, shopkeepers in Pabna were eying good sales in the ongoing month of Ramadan as people buy all types of goods as part of the Eid-ul-Fitr festival.
Although customer turnout at various markets is increasing each day as the celebrations draw nearer, overall sales are yet to reach their peak as people have cut budgets to keep spending in check amid higher inflation, according to local traders.
During a visit to prominent shopping centres in Pabna, this correspondent found that shop owners have put on display a huge collection of clothing items in their stores but are not getting enough customers.
"We got very little sales during the last two Eid-ul-Fitr festivals due to the alarming Covid-19 situation when markets were kept shut," said Md Imdadul Islam, owner of Isha Matching Corner, a fashion house in the Pabna New Market.
"I have a huge collection of clothing items this year but I have not been able to sell more than 30 per cent of my products since the 20th day of the fasting month."
During a visit to his shop on Friday, it was found that although many customers were present, most of them were unable to buy anything considering the higher prices.
Shaira Ahmed, a homemaker, had planned to buy two saris, but she found out their prices to be Tk 8,000 each, which is Tk 2,000 higher than her budget.
"If I had gone ahead with the plan, I would have to give up on other shopping, so I have bought just one sari," she said.
However, Islam defended his prices, saying production costs have surged owing to higher raw material prices.
"The price of clothes has increased by Tk 150 to Tk 200 for each Tk 1,000 product in the wholesale markets due to the hike in raw material prices. So, we are bound to sell at higher prices too."
Md Alauddin, another shopkeeper in the New Market, said most middle-income people are not doing a lot of shopping this year, leading to lower sales.
"The middle-income groups are the main customers but most of them have cut their Eid shopping."
In the previous years, he used to sell more than Tk 1 lakh worth of products each day, but this year, daily turnover stands at Tk 30,000 to Tk 40,000.
"Before Ramadan, I had targeted to recover a portion of the last two years' losses, but poor festival sales have made me worried about whether I'll even be able to finish Eid stocks," Alauddin added.
Most customers generally agreed that they have had to cut down on Eid shopping this year due to the higher prices of almost all products.
"The price of necessary commodities has rapidly increased, which has, in turn, raised the cost of living. At this stage, I have to cut the budget for Eid shopping," said Md Shahidur Rahman, who teaches at a college. He usually buys two sets of clothes for each of his family members every year, but this year he is buying just a single set.
During visits to various other markets in the district town, it was also found that there were huge gatherings of people but not everyone was making purchases.
"Most female customers usually buy cosmetics along with their new dresses, but this year, most of them have cut cosmetic shopping as the prices of dresses and other necessaries have increased," said Ashraful Bari, who owns a cosmetics shop at the Khan Bahadur Shopping Mall.
Despite the huge turnout of shoppers, traders are not getting enough customers, he claimed.
"Traders wait for the sales ahead of Eid every year. However, businessmen could not post expected Eid sales due to the coronavirus pandemic in the last two years," said ABM Fazlur Rahman, director of the Pabna Chamber of Commerce and Industries. "Now, rising living costs have brought more disappointment."
However, he went on to say that Eid sales may increase in the last moments ahead of the festival, so there is nothing to be worried about at the moment.