CHATTOGRAM: With Eid-ul-Azha only a couple of days away, small businesses, including roadside vendors and makeshift shop owners, are looking for buyers as the ordinary customers either have insufficient budget to do so or run short of money after spending to buy food and other necessary items ahead for the festival.
Traders attributed the situation to the novel coronavirus outbreak as they did during the Ramadan month and Eid-ul-Fitr.
This year during the peak business season for attires, including Punjabi, tupi, salwar-kamij, children's wear and cosmetics traders could not do business for want of customers, especially middle-income and lower-income groups, who either have trimmed their budget or have no income for various reason amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite shopping malls, super markets and shops remained open in the last few weeks, businesses counted huge losses and the amount of their losses is increasing every day as they cannot sell their goods for want of buyers, some shop owners of Chattogram city told this correspondent on Thursday.
"We are suffering a lot for lack of customers in the port city," said the owner of a makeshift shop.
This year, many small traders from different areas of the country could not come to the port for doing business in the two Eid seasons either for various reasons, both traders and local administration officials said.
Various government restrictions on movement and travelling during Eid-ul-Fitr prevented hawkers and vendors from coming to the port city from different areas of the country, and for Eid-ul-Azha, the small traders themselves have not come here anticipating that they would incur more losses as there would be a negligible number of buyers this time too.
Although many of people are not maintaining the government's health rules in Chattogram now, but the markets and shopping malls have remained open from morning to late in the evening following the guidelines, police and market owners said.
Market and shop owners have kept shoe-cleaning turf with water and bleaching powder, hand sanitizers and other items for customers as part of their precautionary measures to prevent spread of the virus.
"We have kept our shops open complying with the government's guidelines but the numbers of customers are not satisfactory," said the shop owners at a shopping mall. "The sale is so inadequate two days before the Eid that we have become worried as to how business will survive in this situation," they said.
Echoing him, the owner of a temporarily set up foothpath shop said the suffering of the small traders, including, tailors, owner of laundries and footpath shops knows no bound. "Our business is on the verge of collapse now," he said.
The shop owners of Reajuddin Bazar said told the FE that a significant number of shop owners at the market have decided to shut their establishment right now for fear of incurring more losses.
Shamsuddin, owner of a shop at Reajuddin Bazar said, "In the current year, we could not do business in absence of customers. Customers are not coming in fear of contracting the contagious disease," he added.
Shyamoli Chowdhury, owner of a shop at Afmi Plaza said, "We cannot sell even in the peak time of this year. How can we survive now? We have to pay the rent of the shop, staff salaries and utility bills."
Talking with this correspondent, many small traders of other shopping places in the city said they have decided to wind up their business as they have already suffered irreparable losses amid an uncertain situation.