Super shops see super business growth

People purchasing from a super shop outlet in the capital's Shyamoli area on FridayZahidul Karim

Super shops have become quite popular in the cities as people can find all sorts of daily essentials under one roof. As a result, the super shop business, popularly known as retail business, is growing bigger. It has also boosted their profits. However, the growth of this sector has been affected by various issues, including high inflation rate and price hike, say the entrepreneurs.

Although the super shop business started in the country after 2000, it took more than decade to gain public acceptance. However, the trend of shopping from super shops has gained popularity among city dwellers over the last few years, especially during the pandemic. The popularity of super shops is growing further as consumers can buy all daily essentials from one place.

There is no exact account regarding the size of the daily commodity market in the country. According to the Bangladesh Super Shop Owners Association, the size of the retail market of the daily essentials in the country now stands at around USD 15 billion.

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Super shops cover only 2 to 2.5 per cent of that, which was below 1.5 per cent three years earlier. The growth of super shop business has been around 25 per cent for the last two years, which could be 10 to 20 per cent more, hadn’t there been any pressure of inflation. The market of super shop business is expected to cross USD 1.9 billion by 2030, the owners say.

Although the number of customers hasn’t decreased that much, sales have declined. Those who used to spend Tk 2,000 at the super shops are now spending Tk 1,000
Kazi Ruhul Amin, chairman, Prince Bazar

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Super Market Owners Association general secretary Md Zakir Hossain said the super shop business has seen a huge boost in the last three or four years. Several companies made some good profits. As a result, the concept of super shops is gaining popularity even at an upazila level nowadays.

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Number of super shops rising

Super shop entrepreneurs say the country is being urbanised rapidly. New well planned residential areas are being constructed in Purbachal, Keraniganj, Bosila, areas adjacent to the capital and divisional cities. Besides, newer economic zones, high-tech parks, EPZs and industrial areas are being established under various mega projects. And the demand for super shops is rising in these areas and surroundings. At the same time, there have been a lot of changes in consumer’s behaviour and lifestyle in terms of shopping leading to the growing demand for super shops.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Kamruzzaman, director (distribution) of Pran RFL Group, the mother company of super shop chain Daily Shopping, said that consumers now want to do the daily shopping with comfort. Therefore, people are getting more and more interested in purchasing from super shops. As a result, the number of super shops is rising. 

According to the super shop owners, there are more than 1,500 super shops in the country at the moment. Of them, 600 are outlets of chain super shops. The remaining super shops are doing business locally with one or two outlets.

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However, the number of super shops was only a few hundred even five years ago. Agora, Shwapno, Meena Bazar, Daily Shopping, Unimart, Almas, Prince Bazar and Daily Super Shop are a few of the top super shop chains in the country.

Customers busy buying daily essential at a super shop in the capital
Zahidul Karim

Shwapno is leading the super shop chains in the country with 440 outlets across the country. In the 2022-23 fiscal, the super shop chain made a profit of Tk 130 million. Among the other companies, Daily Shopping runs 75 outlets, Meena Bazar runs 33, Agora 23, Amana Big Bazar 10, Unimart five and Price Bazar runs five outlets. Depending on the size of the supershops, some eight to 50 thousand or more types of products are available at the super shops in the county. Around 65 per cent of the transaction in these supermarkets is done in cash and the rest is done through cards or mobile financing services.

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Impacts of inflation on sale

The inflation rate was above 9 per cent for almost the entire 2023. Apart from food price hike, the inflation of non-food items was also quite high.

The traders say although the consumers of the super shops are not low income people, a large portion of them are under immense pressure due to the inflation.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Prince Bazar chairman Kazi Ruhul Amin said, “Although the number of customers hasn’t decreased that much, sales have declined. Those who used to spend Tk 2,000 at the super shops are now spending Tk 1,000.”

Super shop chain Shwapno executive director Sabbir Hasan Nasir said, “In some cases, the buyers have curbed purchases by 10 to 20 per cent. Otherwise, we could make more profit.”

Apart from the inflation, the entrepreneurs are facing problems in opening letter of credit (LC) due to the rise in dollar price, leading to a fall in the overall growth of profit. Besides, the customers have to bear some four to five per cent VAT (value added tax) for purchasing from the super shops. As a result, many customers avoid super shops. So, the super shop owners demanded a more consistent VAT.

Meena Bazar chief operation officer (COO) Ahmed Shoyeb Iqbal said, “The super shops are now playing an effective role in meeting people's daily needs as well as controlling the monopoly prices of products. However, the market of super shop business will extend further if it gets equal privileges like the open markets.”

*This report appeared on the print and online versions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu

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