Coronavirus triggers panic buying in Dhaka as stocks drop to 7-year low, gold prices fall

People rushed to stock up on groceries in Dhaka on Wednesday as stocks plunged to a seven-year low and jewellers cut gold prices amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak.

Published : 18 March 2020, 09:48 PM
Updated : 18 March 2020, 09:51 PM

More customers than usual crowded the groceries and kitchen markets in the capital’s Agargaon, Mirpur and Mohakhali and they were buying more goods than normal.

“The customers who had been buying 10kg rice at a time previously are going for 20 to 30kg now. They are buying 2 to 3kg lentil in place of 1kg. We trying to ration as the heightened demand has already hit supplies,” said ‘Sohag’, an employee of Prince Bazar in Mirpur.

Grocery sales in Dhaka rise severalfold on Wednesday as a coronavirus outbreak prompts panic buying.

Grocer Zahirul Islam Bhuiyan of Pirerbagh said demand for rice rose sharply increasing prices as well, he said. Miniket rice was being sold at Tk 56 a kg, up from Tk 52 a week ago.

“I managed  to buy 12 sacks of rice on Tuesday after putting in a lot of efforts, but did not need to take the supply inside my shop as the customers booked all. They took it home from the van,” he said. 

Panicked customers buy rice for stockpiling in Dhaka's Mirpur on Wednesday as the number of coronavirus patients rises in Bangladesh.

Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said the rice and wheat in reserves were more than sufficient to meet the demand now.

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi also sees no reason behind a squeeze in supply of imported goods, which he says is 25 to 30 percent more than the previous year.

The government will act against anyone trying to cash it on the coronavirus crisis, the ministers warned.

Md Mohiuddin of wholesaler Janani Rice Agency in Mirpur also said there was actually no shortage of supply. “The mills could not match the sharp increase in demand. But the problem will go away soon because there is enough rice in stock,” he said.

Monjur Mohammad Shahriar, the director of Dhaka zone at the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, said they sent seven teams to the markets to alert the customers to the risks of stockpiling.


The key index of the Dhaka Stock Exchange lost 168.6 points or 4.47 percent to 3603.95.

The previous low was at 3559.25 on May 9, 2013.

With Wednesday’s plunge, the DSEX shed a total of 628 points or 14.83 percent in four trading days.

Professor Mizanur Rahman, who teaches accounting at the Dhaka University, told that the Bangladesh Bank should take steps to increase liquidity in order to allay fears of the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on the economy.

“The economy must be provided with cash through the purchase of government bonds. The banks will have to be asked to buy shares then,” he said.


A month after raising gold prices citing the coronavirus, the jewellers have now cut the prices of the yellow metal citing the same reason.

The new prices, with a Tk 1,166 cut per Bhori (11.664 grams) across the board, will be effective from Thursday, Bangladesh Jewellers Samity or Bajus said in an announcement on Wednesday.

“The global gold market has been instable for some days. The downtrend is much visible in the UK market. So we’ve decided to cut the prices to adjust with the international market,” Bajus General Secretary Dilip Kumar Agarwala explained.

New gold prices (per Bhori):

22 carat – Tk 60,361

21 carat – Tk 58,028

18 carat – Tk 53,013

For the traditional method, in which gold is acquired from old ornaments but there is no standard of purity, the price remains unchanged at Tk 40,241 per Bhori.