Covid-19: Low customer turnout in super shops amid new normal

September 21, 2020 By [email protected]_84 Off

Sector insiders and experts believe that decrease in purchasing capacity of middle class people and tendency of leaving the city were key reasons behind the drop

Super shops, whose products ran out in the beginning of Covid-19 outbreak due to customers’ panic buying, are now witnessing low customer turnout and a decline in sales.

Sector insiders and experts believe that decrease in purchasing capacity of middle class people and tendency of leaving the city were key reasons behind the drop. 

Meena Bazar Chief Executive Officer Shaheen Khan said that they witnessed about 40-60% year-on-year growth in March-May of this year thanks to increased buying of customers during the initial days of the outbreak.

“In two months, July and August, we experienced a 30% drop in customer turnout,” he added.

However, the basket value (shopping items at a time by customers) increased because people are avoiding physical movements and they bought their necessary products in higher quantity, he added.

The super shop chain’s top official said they saw at least 10% drop in sales on an average in July and August.

“Super markets actually demand a bit higher prices of their products than other local markets. But amidst the coronavirus, people are now trying to reduce their living costs, which is why some are avoiding shopping from such markets,” said Golam Rahman, chairman of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh.

He added that the Covid-19 reality cut the consumers’ buying capabilities. Besides, they have started to prefer online shopping to avoid physical contact, Rahman said.

Visiting several super shops in the capital city including Shwapno, Agora, Meena Bazar, a very few customers were found buying their necessary products.

Staff and officials were not busy like other normal days.

Talking to Dhaka Tribune, they said that they lost a third of their customers due to the pandemic.

“During the month of May, around 142 customer bought products per day in average and it came down to 138 in July and to 125 per day in August,” said Razibul Islam, manager of Shwapno outlet of Hajipara Notunrasta in Dhaka.

He added that the customer number was declining day by day, and especially after the last eid the trend continued.

Although there was no effect on employees’ jobs and salaries yet, it would be a must if the situation continued, Razibul said.

“Many of our customers lost their jobs and businesses due to Covid-19 pandemic, and left the city,” said Mehedi Hasan, an official of the same outlet.

Besides, the majority’s buying capability fell down, that was why the number of customers in such outlets decreased, he added and expressed his concern over their jobs.

A salesman of the Twenty Four-Seven Super shop at the capital’s Mirbagh area, wishing anonymity, said they were passing a critical time now.

“Very few customers are coming every day, around 20-30. Before the outbreak it was three times more than that,” he added.

“In the early days of the pandemic, we had to handle huge amount of customers who bought and reserved goods at a time. They feared that they would not get the products later once they ran out,” the employee remarked.

The coronavirus outbreak already changed the lives of the citizens and threatened the country’s economy as well as global prosperity. 

It forced people to lower their desires and demands, which was another reason behind the drop in customer turn out in super shops.

However, the customers, especially from the middle class who were capable of keeping their financial condition up amid the Covid-19 crisis anyhow, continue their shopping from super shops as they found it safe and more comfortable than other types of markets. 

A customer Harun Ur Rashid came from Eskaton Garden came to buy kitchen items from the Meena Bazaar outlet at Magbazar.

He said, “I am a regular customer of Meena Bazaar. Though my business has an effect because of pandemic, I like shopping from Meena bazaar and twice in a week I buy necessary things from here.”

Badrul Alam, in-charge of the outlet, said that the pandemic had a bad impact on shopping, and they faced a cut in customer numbers.

“But many of our regular customers never miss to come to our shops,” he added.

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