Tips to get the best deals in Dubai shopping season

You wouldn’t think there’s a science to shopping, but how wrong you’d be! It’s common sense to make the most of sales – that is, if you plan to have a wardrobe that turns heads and makes people ‘jay’ (for jealous)

If you love pretty clothes but hate paying a lot of money for them, welcome to my world. Whether you’re a trailing (jobless) spouse in Dubai with lots of time to invest in sales that come up at the World Trade Centre or you’re a working woman, especially a working mother, your time is probably at a premium, So let’s give you some pointers.

Watch out for sales that go on for three-to-four days. A one day sale is not the best option to replenish your wardrobe. The first day in the sale is not the most productive in terms of shopping. Best to avoid going at opening hours of day one because there may be a celebrity invited to cut the ribbon. Celebs need to be fashionably late, so the opening will get delayed, cutting into your shopping time. Also, opening hours are likely to be more crowded because of shoppers anxious to get their hands on the deals before anyone else. So there’s a lot more jostling and elbowing, and you can’t get to see the merchandise comfortably, which makes for a nasty shopping experience and poor judgement calls.

Some of the merchandise may still be covered when the sale opens its doors (hey, organisers are humans too) so you could miss out on something you wanted. Sales staff may not be up to speed with information on the prices etc on the first day. By the second day, these glitches are ironed out and the crowd is more manageable. This is when you can really get productive and make wise purchasing decisions. If you set yourself a tight budget, it might be a good idea on the first day to just get an idea of what is available, the prices and then cross-check on the internet to see if you’re really getting a good deal.

I usually prefer going alone to avoid being biased by other people’s opinions. Also, it is useful not to have a husband or kids nagging you to leave. Go through your wardrobe and make a list of the things you need before you hit the sales. If you have clothes you’re not wearing simply because you don’t have a matching top or trousers, put those on the top of your list. Sales are also the occasions for the smart shopper to buy things in advance. Think about the seasons – winter boots or trench coats that you don’t have but will need when the season warrants. Also think about any special clothes you need in a year – perhaps an evening dress for the Dubai World Cup or a prom dress for your daughter, and plan to buy these now rather than running to the stores at the last minute.

Once armed with your well-thought out list, eat a good meal for energy before you hit the sale. Dress comfortably and wear flat shoes, easy to slip on and off, so you can try shoes. Prepare to be hands-free – wear pants with lots of pockets so you can slip in your smart phone and credit card (and one more item… read on). If you’re asked to deposit your handbag at the door, you don’t want to be carrying your wallet in your hand. Use the rest room before you enter the sale. If you are comfortable, energetic and in top form, you will make better purchase decisions.

Once you enter the sale, first wander around and see what’s on offer, where and at what prices. It’s like army reconnaisance. Get to know the territory. You don’t want to buy a pair of pants at Dh100 and then later find a better pair at Dh50 somewhere in the far corner.

The biggest disadvantage of buying in a sale in WTC is that there are no fitting rooms. But did that ever stop a woman from trying things on? Tops and dresses are easy to pull on over your clothes. That’s a no-brainer. While there are no mirrors, you can use your smart phone camera in selfie mode to get at least a fair look at yourself wearing the top. Ask the sales staff to help you with buttons at the back and zippers etc.

It’s more difficult to put on a pair of trousers over your clothes. Just holding them against your body won’t help assess the fit confidently. Sizes written on clothes can sometimes be a nightmare to decode. Some labels will be kind enough to mention the sizes across nationalities, but some won’t. There is always the possibility that the label may be wrong, which is why the product ended up at the sale counter. To take the guesswork out of this, use this trick: carry a measuring tape with you, in one of the pockets of your trousers. Measure the waist of a pair of pants that fit really well at home, and memorise that number. When on visual inspection, the pair on sale look like they may fit, simply measure and buy only if they correspond to your number.

Sales are the occasions when you can buy stuff that you’ve been wanting to try out but were reluctant to spend much on. Push the envelope, buy different cuts, colours and styles as long as they are reasonably priced. Go on, try that corset that you find intriguing but would never pay the full price for. The people who are truly well dressed are always open to trying different styles. If they don’t work out, you can always discard and you’ve not burned a hole in your pocket.

Sometimes you might pick up something that you thought was a bargain and then find it’s another, higher price. Verify with the sales staff before you hit the checkout line.

After two-to-three hours, you will find yourself getting tired. That should be a signal for you to leave. A tired body will lead to impaired judgement and you will end up buying stuff that you might regret later. So listen to your body and get out. Come back the next day to make the most of your shopping experience.

As long as you are plan carefully and are sensible about it, you can save tonnes of money and be well-dressed by shopping at the sales. Happy shopping!

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