They also expressed concern about a recovery of their operational expenses as they had to spend extra cash on ensuring health safety measures for both their staff and customers
Shop owners at several shopping malls in the capital, who had reopened their establishments ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr amid the countrywide shutdown to prevent a spread of coronavirus, have expressed immense frustration over the poor sales of their products.
They also expressed concern about a recovery of their operational expenses as they had to spend extra cash on ensuring health safety measures for both their staff and customers.
Visiting different city shopping malls and markets in the capital on Saturday, Dhaka Tribune found that most sales executives were sitting idle with the presence of customers being low.
On May 10, shopping malls opened on a limited scale as per government directives. However, large shopping malls, including Bashundhara City Shopping Complex, Jamuna Future Park and New Market remained closed.
Traders said people were not coming out of their homes due to coronavirus, while the few customers who had opted to go out for shopping said they did so out of sheer necessity.
Exercising health measures, some markets were found taking necessary steps such as providing hand sanitizers, handwash and disinfection tunnels at their entry points.
“Since opening the shop last week I have not been able to sell goods worth more than Tk2,000 a day, which is much less than Tk25,000 a day during Ramadan last year,” said Jamal Sheikh, staff of JM Leather Collection at Elephant Road.
Mohammad Amin from Mirpur brought his wife to Elephant Road to buy clothes for their children under their pressure.
He said that he could not give any birthday gift to his five-year-old son a few days ago. Therefore, he had come to buy a shirt and shoes for him along with other things.
“I told him that I would give him a gift during the Eid festival. But the little boy doesn't understand what coronavirus is and what a pandemic is. He cries every day for his gift,” he lamented.
Md Jahangir Alam, store manager of Bata's Elephant Road branch, said “Only customers who live nearby are coming for purchases. Our daily turnover during Ramadan this year is Tk20,000, much lower than last year's average of Tk2 lakh."
This year we have additional costs as health safety was a priority for us. As a result, we had to spend extra for health safety equipment,” he added.
“This year the shop owners have to incur losses as the sales turnover is very poor and operation costs are higher compared to last year,” Bangladesh Shop Owners Association (BSOA) president Helal Uddin told Dhaka Tribune.
In complying with government guidelines to ensure customers' and employees' health safety, the shop owners had to spend extra money for safety equipment, Helal explained.
On top of that, the shop owners got fewer days compared to previous years, as the government instructed all markets and shopping malls to remain closed, while people's movement was limited due to the ban on public transport, said the business leader.
Customers disregard health safety
It was also witnessed that while some of the big shopping malls provided safety equipment, the small shops were not complying with government directives.
Maintaining social distance and applying safety equipment among the customers were also not noticeable.
“It is quite impossible to maintain social distance if everyone is not aware of it and does not use personal protective equipment. I am wearing a mask but the others don't care about it,” Md Kamruzzaman, a shopper, told Dhaka Tribune at Elephant Road.
On the other hand, during buying or checking clothing items it is not possible to maintain distance as the shop sizes were small and congested, he added.