With Eid shopping at fever pitch in the capital, many shoppers complain high prices are taking the edge off their joy ahead of the festivities.
Despite the pressure on their purses, people continue crowding the shopping malls to make the best buys possible.
"Our budget is limited. In the past, people used to be happy shopping ahead of Eid. But now they come to markets with a lot of tension," Rafeza Zaman Khan, who works at a real estate firm, told The Daily Star yesterday.
"The prices of garment items have gone up unexpectedly," she said while shopping at the city's Mouchak Market. "It's mostly the problem of the middle class."
Delwar Hossain, a lawyer who came to the shopping mall with his wife and two children, said, "The shop owners are asking for very high prices, at least 30 percent higher over the last year."
While bargaining for a sari with a seller, Arifa Akhter, a housewife, said, "The price of every item has increased… shopping is tough nowadays."
The shop owners are not satisfied either; they say sales are not up to the mark this year.
"The sales have gone up compared to the first two weeks of Ramadan, but they are still lower than the last year," said Bellal Hossain, owner of Nandinee Fashion at Bashundhara Shopping Mall.
Aminul Islam Rubel, a sales manager of Suraiya Fashion in Mouchak Market, said compared to the last Ramadan, sales are not encouraging.
He sold over 100 pieces of ladies garment a day in the holy month last year but it has come down to 60 to 70 pieces.
Rubel said the prices had soared by Tk 200 to Tk 300 for a piece of salwar-kamiz.
Also, Helma Mahmuda, in charge of Rang, a boutique on Bailey Road, agrees that the prices had increased by 20 to 30 percent.
According to the shop owners, the prices are higher because of the rise in production cost. Some even blame the troubled stockmarket for their low sales, saying a majority of the investors in the bourses are small investors.
Selina Rita, a sales executive of Tangail Sari Kutir in the area, said the sales are not as good as the last year, even if their store had made extensive preparation for Eid and brought in new designs.
Hossain of Nandinee Fashion said the number of customers had not come down but the quantity of purchase by them had lowered. "If one customer bought three items last year, he is buying one item this year."
"The sales have halved from the last year because of a tough economic condition," he said.
Subrata Saha, assistant manager of Banglar Mela, said, "Many people are going home early, making a negative impact on our sales."
"We hope people staying back in Dhaka will come to markets in the last couple of days before Eid," he added.