Reopening shopping malls

Traders fear low customer turnout, less sales

Amid the spiralling cases of COVID-19 infection and deaths in the country during the nationwide shutdown, the government has decided to reopen shopping malls and markets ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr under some conditions.

Shopping malls and shops will be open from Sunday, said the Bangladesh Shop Owners Association. They welcomed the decision of the government. At the same time, the association has warned the traders to abide by the conditions.

Traders, however, are worried about adequate numbers of customers, and sales when the shops are reopened. They fear many people will not come shopping to avoid coronavirus infection.

Shopping malls across the country can be kept open from 10 am to 4 pm every day from May 10 under some conditions, the cabinet division said in a statement on Monday. It said shops could be kept open for a limited period in Ramadan and ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr. According to the circular, the owners could reopen their shops ensuring health measures, including maintenance of social distancing and facilities for hand-washing and disinfections.

Meanwhile, some shops have opened in different parts of the capital in the last few days before the government's announcement. Spectacles, electronics, electric, hardware, car appliances and other product shops were opened in different areas of the capital including Gulshan, Mirpur, Shantinagar, Mohammadpur and New Market on Sunday.

Shafiqul Islam, a businessman from Dhaka New Market, said he was preparing to open the shop in compliance with health rules. However, in the current prevailing situation; there are concerns about the arrival of buyers, and sales. Mirpur area businessman Rinku said, “My shop was open for the last two days, but there was not much sales.”

Retail, wholesale and manufacturing traders have started communicating since the government announced the decision; so that when the shop suddenly opens, they can trade the products as per the demand for Eid. However, due to lack of advance preparation, there is a shortage of products, said the wholesalers.

Helal Uddin, president of the Bangladesh Shop Owners Association, said the government has decided to keep the shops open to a limited extent considering the overall situation. He urged the traders and buyers to abide by all the conditions of hygiene. He said that at the entrance of every shopping mall, arrangements should be made for hand washing or disinfection. Besides, arrangements must be made to disinfect vehicles.

Tawfiq Ehsan, president of the Dhaka Shop Owners Association, said they urged all traders to keep their shops open in compliance with hygiene rules.