Dubai: With the month-long Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) a couple of weeks away, coming on the heels of other end-of-season sales like Black Friday and its regional version of White Friday, and followed by Cyber Monday, you should know how to turn these shopping events to your financial advantage.
“Unlike unanticipated flash sales, end-of-season sales occur around the same time each year as retailers offer discounts on items associated with the season that’s about to end to make room for the new season’s items,” explained Dr. Khalid Essaye, an Abu Dhabi-based retail researcher.
“But to take full advantage of these seasonal sales, you have to plan ahead. This is how you can save significant amounts of money and avoid charging up your credit card by planning your purchases around these guidelines.”
If you were to enforce a blanket guideline when it comes to seasonal bargain shopping, one fact worth remembering for all shoppers is summer merchandise usually goes on clearance in June and July and winter merchandise usually goes on sale in January after the winter holidays, he added.
Guidelines to help shop better when shopping online
“When it comes to off-season shopping, a basic economic thumb rule that applies is that ‘when demand is high, prices are high and when demand is low, prices are low’,” said Dubai-based Mirin Raul, who coaches UAE-based residents in matters concerning money and spending.
“What this means for shoppers is that when the needs and wants of a particular shopper increases, demand is driven up significantly if those wants sync up with other consumers, leading to higher prices – making a reverse of the rule also true.”
Seasoned bargain hunters look for discounts during the off-season period, buying items they would require that year, but won’t necessarily buy them during the season that demands them. This is a widely practiced hack to make savings when items are not in demand and hence, when prices drop.
“If you’re in the habit of shopping online, you can get great bargains at any time of year if you use a shopping search engine like Google shopping, which lists prices from online vendors for the item you’re searching for, while also making the most of coupons and cashback offers,” Essaye added.
How to shop better when shopping online
If there are several offers on a product, check how best they can be combined to get the best deal possible. Moreover, it also helps to sign up for one of the many online shopping rebate sites, which negotiate deals with top online retailers to offer you up to 5 per cent cash back on your online buys.
E-commerce platforms in the UAE are gearing up for the upcoming major annual online shopping season spree, with a number of portals offering promotions to attract online shoppers. In the UAE, e-marketplaces like Souq.com, Agoda.com, Amazon.ae offers discounts on your transactions.
7 pitfalls when bargain shopping, tips to avoid them
Although a bargain shopper may be quick to find oneself a massively discounted deal, they are also more likely to fall victim to some of these shopping pitfalls, so it helps to keep these tips from Essaye and Raul handy.
1. When shopping during sales, don’t assume you’re getting a bargain if an item is marked down. Know what the items you’re buying usually cost — not just what the price tag says. You can get this by comparing prices online and then visiting the stores to buy the items.
2. It is often misconstrued or mistaken that when buying an item you don’t really need, it isn’t considered a bargain even if the item is discounted steeply, as it’s just an unnecessarily expense that eats into the profits made from buying necessary items at a mid-sized discount.
3. Even an item that’s steeply discounted won’t end up being a bargain if you put it on a credit card and don’t pay it off right away. The longer you carry the balance on your credit card, the more the interest will eat into your savings on the item.
4. You can save a lot of money by buying big-ticket items in the month that retailers traditionally reduce prices on that item. Though these rules are most applicable to brick and mortar stores that carry inventory, you can see similar seasonal sale trends online.
5. When offered a choice between a free Dh20 gift certificate and a Dh100 gift certificate for Dh70, a shopping survey opted for the free gift certificate, even though it meant losing out on Dh30 profit. So, beware of freebies, as a price tag of zero can be costlier than it appears.
6. Don’t let the store alter your ‘reference price’, which is a marketing term that refers to the price that you expect to pay for something, because you have bought that item several times before, and retailers are often tweaking it.
An illustration of how shops often play around with ‘reference price’: If the price in your head for a can of tuna is probably around Dh6.95 and retailers shrunk the size of the can from 185 grams to 150 grams, the sellers are making more money, even though the price looks unchanged to you.
The retail practice of downsizing the product while keeping the price unchanged has often proven to be an added advantage to sellers. “While studying every price-weight fluctuation may prove difficult, being aware of this sleight of hand could save you money from time to time,” added Essaye.
What months are widely popular for sale of big-ticket items?
When it comes to appliances, bargain sale months are December through January, and the same time period applies for electronics, while discounts on winter clothes, party dresses and formal clothing peak during the last week of December and the first week of January.
There is a trend wherein furniture sales are slow as summer ends, after which retailers entice customers with discounts during the month of September, while bargains can be found when buying a new car in October and late December.
Saving trends to remember when shopping in Dubai
Coinciding with end-of-season sales like Black Friday, its regional version of White Friday, and Cyber Monday, the three-day Super Sale in November also kicks off this weekend in Dubai, offering discounts of up to 90 per cent off.
With the three-day Super Sale held across malls in Dubai from November 24-26, and Black Friday online campaigns running until November 28, discounts are offered across lifestyle, beauty, fashion, electronics, among others.
“Businesses know that shoppers will spend generously during the holiday season, and longer sale windows give companies more time to rake in more sales from shoppers who are expected to shell out in person and online this year,” added Essaye.
Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) is popular to buy gold and silver jewellery and diamond, platinum, and precious gemstones at attractive prices. Gold price during the Dubai Shopping Festival tends to be lower than the rest of the year as well (hyperlink link to my earlier story on gold prices set to be low Dec-end).
What other discounts should you eye during the DSF?
Exotic spices and dry foods are also in demand among the shoppers during the DSF. One can choose to buy cars that will be sold at lower rates in the malls in Dubai during the shopping festival. The malls in Dubai have also historically offered appliances and electronic items like mobile phones and televisions at comparatively lower prices under the umbrella of the Dubai Shopping Festival.