Business owners think the drastic fall in paddy prices resulted in the decline in customers, most of whom are farmers
Despite Eid-ul-Fitr, the biggest festival for Muslims, being only days away, vendors of most shops in Naogaon are sitting idle for lack of customers.
Business owners think the drastic fall in paddy prices resulted in the decline in customers, most of whom are farmers.
Paddy farmers did not make much of a profit from their harvest this year, so it is difficult for them to shop for their families this Eid. Sales in local shops are suffering.
The rice prices have dropped in the last several months owing to bumper harvests causing market saturation. Also due to the unavailability of affordable labour, farmers were unable to harvest their crops at the right time to avoid natural disasters.
Abdul Kuddus, a farmer from Raninagar upazila said: “We are selling a maund of paddy for Tk570, which doesn’t cover our expenses. There is no Eid celebration for us this year.”
Abdul Sattar, a farmer from Sadar upazila said: “Due to low prices, we have not yet sold any paddy. We have no money to celebrate Eid.”
The usual scenario in Eid markets during Ramadan, would include enthusiastic shop owners displaying their special collections, bargaining customers wanting a good deal on prices, and an overall festive mood which is all so familiar. But this year it’s different and the whole market has fallen victim to the slump in paddy prices.
According to the Naogaon municipal market collector's office, the municipality of Naogaon has more than 600 shops. Hundreds of shops flaunting clothes, shoes, and cosmetics would typically earn Tk4 lakh to Tk20 lakh each, at this time of year. But this year, even bigger shops have not yet been able to reach Tk5 lakh in daily sales. Small shops had a maximum daily sale of Tk10,000.
There was no rush of customers at big shopping malls like Asman Big Bazar, Dewan Bazar, Basak Shopping Complex, Majeda Super Market, Crescent Market and others in the city, as in previous years. Only a few customers were seen trying on clothing in shops.
Joshnar Mela Shop owner of Dewan Bazar, Shafiqul Islam, said:"We used to sell cloth worth Tk2 lakh daily during Eid. But this year we did not even cross Tk30,000. Our customers are mainly from the villages, but due to their financial losses they are not coming to our shops."
Proprietor of Salam Embroidery House of Masjid Market said: "We are the biggest shop here for embroidery products. But we haven't seen such a drop in sales in the last 30 years. Since 90% of Naogaon's population is agrarian, the decline in rice prices has greatly affected the whole economy."
Footpath markets are also lifeless this year. There is no rush, bargaining, or chaos echoing down the streets.
A footpath vendor, Altaf Hossain, said: "I couldn't even sell Tk1500 worth of products today. Whereas, last year I earned Tk10,000 each day. The city has become lifeless since there is no rush of people from distant areas for their Eid shopping."
President of Textile Merchants Association, Abdul Wahab, said: “In previous years, people could not step foot in the jam packed eid markets. Vendors would have a hard time handling countless customers.
“Most shop owners have bought their goods with borrowed money. If sales don’t go up any time soon, they will drown in debt.”