Drop-dead Discounts

How to steal the deal.

If it's January, you've got to be at the sales. One of the best upshots of India's new economy is the wonderful time of seasonal sales. Like the rest of the world, we go on a massive discount each July and January, but there's also the pre-Diwali season, which is bonanza time for jewellery, automobiles and electronics.

January is fashion's favourite season. July has our wardrobes updated from our summer hols. But January heralds a new spring and a haute summer.

The high-street shops are swathed with giant red banners screaming the four-letter word. The designer shops are especially crowded: when else can you buy a Tarun Tahiliani sari for Rs 15,000? Or a Lecoanet Hemant skirt for Rs 700? The Ensemble sale, the big daddy of them all, is currently on, and divas of all sorts and shapes are lined up in their favourite designer boutique for their dose of a 70 per cent off. The luxury houses are teeming with shoppers in search of a half-price. Even men can barely miss this: Gucci loafers for Rs 10,000, Ferragamo ties for five grand.

I've had a long-held disdain for discounts. They've always meant old stock, torn seams or stained collars for me. Moreover, the pushing and shoving take the joy out of the purchase. Much bliss in retail therapy is acquired from the ambience at the boutiques, the cold whiff of the air-con, the fussing-over shop girl, and the Champagne/ coffee/ coconut water that you are always offered. Stack that up against pushy shoppers with giant handbags, poky elbows and very bad manners and you get the picture.

But sales these days are hard to resist, even for the snobbiest among us. For starters, the markdowns are genuine; it isn't just clearing out the last season's stock for slightly less. Rips and tears are always left behind on the racks, so fewer merchandisers are bothering with putting them on display. And with so much new money hanging off our arms (who doesn't own a Louis Vuitton today?), an older acquisition seems so much classier.

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