Chattogram is experiencing a major shift in Eid shopping culture

| Update:
April 28, 2022 9:59:14 p.m.

“Everything about shopping for Eid in Dhaka revolves around the new market” – that was a fact even a few years ago.

Although this holds little truth as rising middle class wealth coupled with changing tastes has drastically changed the scenarios in Dhaka. Malls and arcades in Dhaka have seen more middle class participation than New Market during Eid over the past decade.

That was far from the truth in Chattogram for the past decade. At least the middle class would still prefer places like Riazuddin Bazar or Tedi Bazar, the two busiest places in town, for shopping on Eid.

However, Chattogram has seen a major shift in Eid shopping culture with the arrival of luxury brands in recent years.

Middle class people are now flocking more to luxurious malls and posh arcades such as Finlay Square, Sanmar, New Market and Bali Arcade etc. and less to their usual destinations like Riazuddin Bazar or Tedi Bazar.

More importantly, clothing brands grew in popularity and local tailors began to lose demand. This year this has become more evident as many owners have had to close their sewing shops due to lack of orders.

Apart from Tedi Bazar, which is famous for its tailoring shops, there is a common phenomenon in every local tailor shop: layoff of workers, slowdown in business or complete closure.

Nasir Uddin, the owner of a famous Punjabi tailor shop in the town of Anderkilla, expressed his concerns about the scribe this way: “I’ve been here since 1998 and I’ve been through ups and downs in this business. But it may be the worst we can face regardless of the Covid-19 period.

“Usually we had to close orders inside the 5th Ramadan, but this year we are still accepting orders and some of my workers have moved to garment factories looking for bigger facilities because we cannot pay them what they need. We had to lay off half of our workers due to lack of orders,” Nasir Uddin added.

Tareq Ahmed, another tailor shop owner in Tedi Bazar, has the same view and expressed his concerns about the change in culture.

“I think it’s because young people are embracing clothing brands more than ever,” he said.

Ferdous Tailor’s – which is the biggest outlet in the area – faced a similar situation and the owner echoed the same.

Although culture change is imminent, it is the result of a stack of events and the writer discussed the phenomenon with some Chattogram residents to uncover the forces behind the culture change.

Zohaan Abdullah Al Mahmud is a student in Department of Economics, University of Dhaka (DU), originally from Chattogram, thinks people in Chattogram have learned to save time and energy.

“Nowadays, people prefer to avoid the hassle of tailoring and pay a few extra dollars as an avoidance cost,” Zohaan believes.

“I have seen several outlets of these tailors close over the past couple of years and this happened after the influx of popular brands into the city,” adds Zohaan.

When asked if this is a change for the better or not, Zohaan enthusiastically replied, “This is the part of the transition that every city has to go through, and probably a step further from the conservatism, but it comes at a substantial cost, the deceleration of an Eid shopping culture that has reigned for decades.”

Mahmudul Hasan Tipu, another student from the Department of International Relations at the University of Chittagong, shared his perspective on cultural change.

“I would personally visit malls and arcades for menswear. But for women, the scenario remains the same as they still have to visit Tedi Bazar, which is still a popular shopping spot.”

He also sees middle-class people visiting shopping malls instead of regular hangouts due to a cultural shift and attributes the phenomenon to the increased awareness of the city’s youth.

“Most young people today frequent shopping malls to avoid price uncertainty. Because several brands have now entered the market, they compete with each other and set a justified price for each product. So it has become an easy choice for young people.”

Abdur Rahman Rafid, a final year student at Dhaka University, shared his thoughts on cultural change. Rafid thinks Chattogram being a business center has something to do with the rapid culture change.

“Besides the notable facilities offered by the brands, including ease of exchange, trials and a decent environment, I think innovation is something that attracts people a lot.”

Whatever the cause, change was inevitable because people’s affordability and tastes are constantly changing.

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