Puja sales resumption | The Daily Star

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Optimistic retailers and fashion houses after 18 months of downturn

After suffering dismal sales over the past 18 months, stores are bracing for an influx of shoppers during Durga Puja, the country’s biggest religious holiday for its Hindu community. The photo was taken from Tanti Bazar in Dhaka yesterday. PHOTO: Rashed Shumon

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After suffering dismal sales over the past 18 months, stores are bracing for an influx of shoppers during Durga Puja, the country’s biggest religious holiday for its Hindu community. The photo was taken from Tanti Bazar in Dhaka yesterday. PHOTO: Rashed Shumon

Malls, fashion houses and outlets register higher sales on the occasion of Durga Puja as worshipers prepare to celebrate the biggest religious holiday of the Bengali Hindu community.

This has given retailers a boost after sales have remained depressed for most of the past 18 months due to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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But as the pandemic has eased recently following a massive drop in coronavirus infections, customers have flocked to malls, markets and roadside vendors to purchase clothes, shoes, items. electronics, home appliances and other items ahead of the annual festival that begins today.

Utpal Kumar Das, who works in a private company, visited the Bashundhara City shopping center on Friday. He bought himself pants and a pair of shoes.

“My dad and my brother went shopping for the rest of the family,” he said.

Pradip Sarker, a private sector employee, bought four saris for his mother, wife and two sisters, as well as pants, shirts and shoes for himself and a nephew.

Sales typically start seven days before the start of Durga Puja, Bangladesh’s fourth largest religious holiday, and the momentum continues for three days after its launch. Hindus make up around 10 percent of the country’s population.

Khalid Mahmood Khan, co-founder of Kay Kraft, a retailer of fashion clothing, accessories, home textiles, crafts and handcrafted products, says the presence of shoppers has increased.

“People are buying clothes and other accessories. It has had a positive impact on the business,” he said, adding that sales were low last year due to the pandemic.

Retailers say they have gone through a rough time since the country was hit by the rogue virus. But the rate of coronavirus infections has plummeted recently, allowing the economy to run at full speed and businesses to make a new plan around Durga Puja.

Monira Emdad, owner of Tangail Saree Kutir fashion store in Dhaka, said saree sales were much higher this year than in previous years. “Usually a lot of people go to India to shop before the festival. It was not possible this time around because of the pandemic.”

Soumik Das, director of Rang Bangladesh, a fashion house, said the national fashion industry has been in bad shape for two years.

“People shop during Durga Puja. As a result, our sales have increased.”

SaRa Lifestyle, another brand, has introduced a number of new clothing focused on the festival.

“Our outlets are showing higher sales,” said Sharifunnesa Reba, director of SaRa.

Eid accounts for around 70% of retail sales in Bangladesh, while the rest takes place during Pahela Baishakh and Durga Puja, she said.

The fashion houses of the Aziz cooperative super market in the capital’s Shahbagh are having a good time as the presence of students, who make up the majority of its clientele, has been bolstered after educational institutions reopened after long shutdowns.

Ujjwal Das, owner of Lanthon Fashion House, said: “Sales at most of the fashion houses in the market are good.

Arfanul Hoque, head of retail at Bata, a multinational manufacturer and retailer of fashion footwear and accessories, said consumer sentiment was high on the Puja occasion.

He said although sales picked up after the economy reopened, they had not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. Sales are at 70 percent of the pre-crisis level.

Smartphone and home appliance retailers are also seeing greater customer participation.

Mohammad Mesbah Uddin, marketing director of Fair Group, the authorized manufacturer of Samsung devices in Bangladesh, said sales increased by 10%.

Sweets are one of the most important elements of the festival.

“Sales always increase 10 to 20 percent every time there is a festival,” said Mahbubur Rahman Bokul, director of operations at Premium Sweets.

“This is also true during Durga Puja. And we have prepared accordingly.”

Syed Nurul Islam, CEO of Well Group, which runs a food chain, said after Eid and Pahela Baishakh, Durga Puja takes priority because business is good during the occasion.


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