On Thursday, talking to a number of retail mask sellers, the Dhaka Tribune learned that mask and sanitizer demand failed to reach the same sales level as last year’s lockdown this time around
Despite a surge in Covid-19 infections and deaths, retail sales of masks and sanitizer have witnessed a sharp plunge.
On Thursday, talking to a number of retail mask sellers, the Dhaka Tribune learned that mask and sanitizer demand failed to reach the same sales level as last year’s lockdown this time around.
Bangladesh went into another phase of lockdown in March this year following rapid surges in both coronavirus infections and deaths.
Retail mask vendor Matiur Rahman at the New Market area said: “Last year, at first when the virus spread began, we had very good sales. Now our total mask and sanitizer sales have dropped by 50-60% compared to last year.”
Only a handful of people wear masks nowadays, he said.
“I have seen on the television that coronavirus infections are increasing, but our business is down. If this continues, I may have to stop selling masks,” he added.
Another retail mask vendor Tutul Mia at Farmgate area had a similar take on the matter.
“Just wait here for an hour with me; you will see very few people seeking masks,” he said.
AK Shohel, who has been selling masks in Dhanmondi area since February last year, said he sold three to four packs of masks — nearly 100-200 pieces — per day during last year’s lockdown.
“I sell at most 80 masks a day now,” he added.
Perhaps people are buying masks and sanitizer from online shops, Shohel further said.
“Depending on the design and material, masks cost between Tk70-80 and Tk90-95 per piece. Surgical masks cost Tk5 per piece and 10 pieces cost only Tk25. These are much cheaper than they were last year. But still, nobody seems to be interest in the products.”
Md Mozammel Haque Ratan, manager of Al-Hera Pharmacy at Azimpur, said their mask and sanitizer sales had drastically fallen, pointing to five unopened cartons of N-95 masks and 100 full boxes of surgical masks.
Bangladesh Medical Equipment Market Association Member Shahjalal Ahmed said: “The Indian variant has been found in the country. But our people do not fear coronavirus, so they do not wear masks. We are also witnessing a sharp decline in retail sales.”
Wearing a mask has become a fashion to many people, and many people buy it online so retailers are facing a dip in sales, he added.
In the wake of a dramatic surge in infections, two-third of Bangladesh is now at very high risk of the coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Its weekly morbidity and mortality update, released on June 21, flagged 40 districts as very high-risk zones, 15 districts as high-risk zones, and six as moderately risky.
Bangladesh recorded 6,058 new Covid-19 cases and 81 deaths from the deadly disease in the 24 hours between 8am Wednesday and 8am Thursday.
This is the highest number of positive cases in a day recorded in over two months, as 7,201 cases were reported on April 12.