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I used to be a real sales snob. I never shopped at sales. The joy of buying something new and special was a big part of feel-good shopping for me. I think I was the only person I knew then who bought things at full price.
Much of this had to do with the fact that it's hard to find a real sale in India. Even though we have malls for every season, and every few miles, India's retail climate is still to warm up to a genuine sale. Of course, we have two sale seasons in tandem with the international ones, but it's often hard to get something you really want to own, or something you waited to get at a more affordable price tag.
Much of this has to do with merchandising. Many stores only try to rid themselves of very old or damaged items; the previous season's collections are saved up until much later, when they're old enough to be sold at a great markdown. Either this or the discounts are so narrow (between 10 and 30 per cent), it's hard to make a successful sale. Moreover, few Indians shop in July, when the monsoon sets in and there are fewer soirees, or January, when the going-out season is well over. It's usually Diwali, or a run-up to the festival that's the real driver.
Very few boutiques — even among the high-street ones that are owned by international buyers — have what we can call a truly fabulous sale. I can count on one hand the few good sales I've been to, and among these sadly are one or two press sales. I especially love the sales at Ensemble, the markdowns are tremendous and it is sometimes easy to get something that costs Rs 15,000 full price for Rs 2,000 after discount. But it's the pushing, shoving and many an ugly fracas that sometimes makes this a tedious experience. It's almost as if you are at an H&M bargain basement, with people who have the manners of H&M shoppers (I would arguably only accept this if it were the Marni for H&M line).
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