Gloom in Kolkata markets devoid of Bangladeshi Eid shoppers
The sullen mood among shopkeepers at the Kolkata New Market was lifted in May when the Municipal Corporation allowed two business hours more for the heritage market ahead of Eid-ul-Azha.
The shopkeepers in central Kolkata's SS Hogg (New) Market had lost nearly half of their customary roaring business during the two major festivals Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha last year and this year during Eid-ul-Fitr due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Coronavirus-induced lockdown and ban on flights, passenger train and bus movement have kept the Bangladeshi shoppers at bay ahead of the Eid festivals.
According to Ashok Gupta, president of SS Hogg (New) Market Traders' Association, businesses have been struggling to survive through the pandemic because shopkeepers there have traditionally depended on thousands of customers from across the border for revenue during the two Eids, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
"New Market depends a lot on Eid shoppers from Bangladesh. Nearly half of the customers are Bangladeshis. For a year and a half now, these shoppers are not coming here," he said.
Acknowledging that the traders at New Market saw some good business during the Durga Puja, Diwali and the Christmas last year, Gupta said, however, the overall revenues are 75 to 80 percent less compared to what it was in 2019.
Not only New Market, traders in the glitzy Quest Shopping Mall on Amir Ali Avenue in Park Circus, South City Mall in south Kolkata, and saree and garments market in Gariahat are also missing the shoppers from Bangladesh during the Eid due to the pandemic and lockdown.
The absence of shoppers from Bangladesh has also affected business of several popular budget hotels in and around central Kolkata localities including Sudder Street, Free School Street and Zakaria Street.
"The two Eid festivals used to bring many visitors from Bangladesh and the hotels in central Kolkata did brisk business. But since last year, these hotels are struggling to find boarders and stay afloat," said a hotelier in Sudder Street.