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Reopening of Tallah Bridge and borders with Bangladesh boost Chaitra, Eid sales

While people from extreme north flock to Hatibagan, Bangladeshis are shopping to their heart’s content at New Market

Bishwabijoy Mitra | Published 08.04.23, 03:22 PM
Shoppers have come back to their old haunts for this Poila Baisakh and Eid. Above, the scene at New Market

Shoppers have come back to their old haunts for this Poila Baisakh and Eid. Above, the scene at New Market

Photos: Ashim Paul

COVID and online shopping portals had robbed hawkers and owners of small shops, stalls and kiosks during the pandemic years, but all that is past now, and especially in Kolkata's budget bazaars, shoppers seem to be back to their old haunts this Poila Baisakh and Eid.

Shinjini Ghosh of Barrackpore, a student and budding social media fashion influencer, is always on the lookout for affordable make-up kits. Hatibagan being the biggest market near her place, she often drops visits and during the Chaitra sale, she has already made several trips to the market.

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“There’s a plethora of offers and shoppers are spoilt with bumper discounts and offers and this is the best time to stock up on your year-long make-up,” she said.

However, the past two years weren’t like this. After Tallah Bridge was closed in 2019, and during the COVID era, the bustling business was hugely dented. Customers like Shinjini, from the northern suburbs of Kolkata, could not reach the market and had relied mostly on online shopping and the local markets because there was no easy way to reach Hatibagan via road. Similarly, the Chaitra sale at New Market is also booming with the return of Bangladeshi buyers, especially for the upcoming Eid, after the international borders have been reopened.

A huge increase in sales

Shoppers at Hatibagan

Shoppers at Hatibagan

While Hatibagan has registered an estimated 60% rise in sales compared to the last few years especially the pandemic-induced ones, New Market is witnessing around 50% increase in sales. “It is better than previous years and we still have a week before the Poila Baishakh festivities. The number would increase many times and we are eagerly waiting for the weekends,” said a hopeful Shyamal Das, a Hatibagan market vendor.

More than the Chaitra sale, New Market businessmen are targeting Eid customers and will have their bumper business days for a few more days till Eid on April 23. “To be honest, Bangladeshi shoppers are keeping this market alive. While most Kolkatans flock to malls, Bangladeshi shoppers visit us every year during this time,” said Md Shamim, a shoe-seller at New Market’s Globe Gali.

Clothes, jewellery and more

Clothes and jewellery are the most sought-after items

Clothes and jewellery are the most sought-after items

According to the shoppers, clothes and jewellery are the most sought-after items. The traditional lehenga, salwar suits and cotton sarees are on the hit-list. On the other hand, kurtas and semi-formal suits are also registering good sales. “During this time of the year, local shoppers look for cheaper items. Their budget is not as much as during Durga Puja, so they also opt for roadside vendors. On the other hand, Bangladeshi shoppers splurge,” said Pintu Saha, a vendor at Gariahat.

It’s a mini holiday for Bangladeshi shoppers

New Market is booming with the return of Bangladeshi buyers, especially for the upcoming Eid

New Market is booming with the return of Bangladeshi buyers, especially for the upcoming Eid

Chanchal Ahamed, a businessman from Jessore, Bangladesh, would visit West Bengal every year for shopping and enjoy a short vacation. “I couldn’t visit Kolkata during the pandemic years but we are here once again,” he added. Ahamed’s wife said Kolkata markets offer a large variety of goods, especially clothes and jewellery as compared to Bangladesh.

She said a lehenga worth Rs 5,000 in India would be pegged at almost close to double the amount at Karwan Bazar, Dhaka. “During Eid, we not only shop for ourselves but also for relatives. So, if you are buying in bulk, it’s cheaper than in Bangladesh, including the travel cost,” she added.

Kolkata’s nightlife and the party scene is another reason for Bangladeshi shoppers to throng Kolkata. “In Bangladesh, all brands of alcohol are heavily taxed while in India, we can buy them at a much lesser price,” said another shopper from Dhaka.

Smooth transport leads to better business

A shopper checks out some hair scrunchies

A shopper checks out some hair scrunchies

While New Market is happy following the reopening of borders with Bangladesh, businessmen at Hatibagan Market are grateful to the authorities for reopening Tallah Bridge. “In the last three years, we hardly had any shoppers from the extreme northern suburbs of Kolkata. People from Madhyamgram, Barasat, Ichhapur and Barrackpore and even Dakshineswar and Dunlop would avoid Hatibagan as they had to face huge traffic snarls. Some took the Metro but it was often a break journey and it added to their woes. This year, it is different, we are getting shoppers even from Habra and Bongaon,” said Kartik Mondal, a bedsheet and sofa cover seller.

Last updated on 08.04.23, 03:22 PM
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