Shopping tactically in Dubai

Dubai is a shopper’s paradise, with experiences around the clock which range from the latest designer wear and handmade products, through to gorgeous textiles, aromatic spices or holiday souvenirs. As many elite shoppers will know, bagging that bargain or finding the perfect item in a different country or environment will call for a different set of skills.

Do your research

Dubai is home to world-renowned malls, but its retail therapy doesn’t stop there. Away from the glitz and glamour of modern malls lie the traditional souks of Old Dubai. Intricate jewellery can be found at the Gold Souk, traditional fragrances at the Perfume Souk and exotic herbs and spices at the Spice Souk.

Shoppers with a taste for high-end brands can nab a discount at outlet complexes such as The Outlet Village and Dubai Outlet Mall.

Those on more of a budget can head to Dragon Mart or for unusual items, souvenirs and gifts, the annual cultural-retail-entertainment hub Global Village is open from November to April.

Knowledge is power

Visiting multiple shops to get an idea of the current retail and street prices is the best way to determine what you should be paying for an item. Enter negotiations armed with prices from competitors as most retailers will at least match these and many will go lower.

Be friendly, but firm

Smile and say hello (or “Marhaba”, in Arabic) when you first arrive and try to maintain eye contact to build trust. Building a rapport and a narrative around your decision-making process can go a long way in negotiations. A bit of give and take is essential, so it’s best to treat negotiations as an open conversation and be willing and happy to compromise.

Haggle, haggle, haggle

Haggling skills are a major factor in determining the final price. Start negotiations at a little more than half price and try to meet in the middle. If purchasing multiple items, it’s reasonable to ask for the store to lower the price and if the seller won’t budge on price, ask if you can get an accessory or souvenir thrown in. It is also handy to carry cash and if you can’t find a deal you’re happy with, walking away can be a powerful tool.

Timing is everything

Try to haggle for items whenever the demand for them is falling. Shop late in the day when sellers are aiming to clear their stock before packing up, or towards the end of the month or a season. Wait until the store is quiet — sellers will not waste time bartering if there are other buyers willing to pay full price.

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