Bangladeshi markets are more or less flooded by Indian dresses during Eid. But thousands of Bangladeshis still prefer to make round trips to India for Eid shopping. This time, an estimated 150,000 shoppers are expected to travel to the neighbouring country.

Munshiganj’s Arafat Abedin went to Kolkata on Friday. He spent more than Tk 1 lakh for his Eid shopping before he returned on Tuesday.

He told the Bangla Tribune that he thought his family members would be elated if they were given gifts with Indian tags.

Bangladesh shop owners’ association chief Md Helal Uddin said thousands of Bangladeshis rushed to India or Singapore during Eid although the local Eid market was huge.

He said more than 150,000 people travelled to India for last year’s Eid-ul-Fitr shopping. The Indian high commission had issued an extra 100,000 visas ahead of Eid.

Helal said he believed the numbers of Bangladeshi shoppers going to India would be higher this year.

“If the shoppers buy goods worth a minimum of $1,000 each, they will end up spending Tk 1,170 crore,” he said. “But many are spending up to $5,000. If we take this into account, then the expenditure figure will run higher.”

Kolkata rush

Journalist Mizanur Rahman Sohel returned from his India shopping trip on Monday. He said a large number of Bangladeshi shoppers had thronged Kolkata’s New Market and surrounding areas.

“The number of Bangladeshi buyers in Kolkata is increasing every day as Eid-ul-Fitr nears. Some traders estimated that on an average around 25,000 Bangladeshi buyers visited the New Market everyday,” he told the Bangla Tribune.

Indian traders are setting up new markets to grab the windfall. Shops in Muslim-dominated areas at Mirza Ghalib Street, Mallikbazar, Belgachhia, New Market, Chitpur, Tallyganj, Entaly, Anowar Shah Road, Rajabazar, Park Circus, Metiaburuz, Khidirpur, Park Street, Chitpur’s Zakaria Street, Dharmatola’s Tipu Sultan mosque premises are recording brisk sales.

Temporary shops have been set up. Traders in other part of West Bengal also reported buoyant sales.

Kolkata’s famous Big Bazar, Sree Leathers, Khadim, South City malls are offering discounts on certain products. Apart from crowding brand shops, many Bangladeshi buyers are also purchasing sarees, three-pieces, and cosmetics at retail price.

Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of the apex trade body Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said he believed people would only stop going shopping abroad when quality goods would be available in local markets at competitive prices.

“Bangladesh now has many world-class goods. But [foreign markets] may have some products that are not available here. People going to India are not violating any law,” he told the Bangla Tribune.

“There is nothing to do if a huge amount of money goes to India for Eid shopping as they are following the code for shopping,” he said. “Moreover, there are border haats. People from both countries can sell and purchase goods of their choice there.”

This article first appeared on Dhaka Tribune.