Monday, June 15, 2009

STI: Discounts are calling my name

June 14, 2009

Discounts are calling my name

By Fiona Chan

Okay, confession time: Last week, I did something bad. Really, really bad.

While my fiance, friends and family were all hard at work, I snuck out during lunchtime for some, shall we say, extracurricular activities.

I had been fighting the temptation for months, telling myself self-righteously that I was 'just not that kind of person'.

But you know what they say: Opportunity knocks only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell and refuses to go away.

It wasn't an easy decision to make and the guilt was overwhelming. At several points, I almost turned back.

But the hesitation only reminded me that I had been pragmatic and logical for too long, which just heightened the thrill of finally being able to do something I really wanted.

So I ignored my conscience, turned off my better judgment, and followed the seductive voice in my head - all the way to Orchard Road and the Great Singapore Sale.

'Aiyah,' I hear you say, 'What's the big deal? Everyone goes to the Great Singapore Sale.'

Exactly, I thought, which is why I initially assumed my flirtation with this year's GSS would be harmless.

After all, I had been cutting back on shopping for months due to the recession. So, making my first purchases in the sale - a couple of lovely dresses at 50 per cent off - felt rejuvenating and satisfying, like making a new friend.

The next few buys, all at justifiable discounts, made me feel like I was right to keep going back for more.

Soon the dalliance got darker and deeper. I started buying things I didn't need, just because they were on sale and they made me happy. Every time I went back to the shops, my burden of guilt grew that little bit heftier - as did my credit card bill.

Still, I convinced myself that it was all innocent fun. So far my purchases had been fairly small, nothing I couldn't explain away.

But then I started taking bigger risks, going to more expensive shops and spending more time there.

For a while even I was puzzled at my own behaviour. I'm hardly the crazed shopaholic type, given that I'm more likely to be poring over seasonally adjusted economic data than seasonal fashion trends.

Then again, as any true shopper will know by now, this year's GSS isn't quite the same as every other sale before it.

Retailers - deprived of business as consumers like me turned thriftier in the recession - are going all out with massive discounts, such as Prada selling its shoes at half-price.

This means that designer labels I would never have dared breathe on before are suddenly in my price range. Mine and everyone else's, making the competition this year more brutal - and more exciting - than ever before.

As I walked into a preview sale last week at Miu Miu, Prada's sister brand, I spotted a gorgeous bag and headed towards it, only to see it snatched up by a woman who already had four other bags on her arm.

It was the same story wherever I went, which just made me more determined to shop more. Gripped by my infatuation, I spent practically all my lunch hours in Orchard Road last week.

I knew I was in too deep, but by then I was no longer really in control of my own actions. When I wasn't shopping, I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Things came to a head last Friday, when I realised that if I didn't just buy everything I wanted, all the good stuff in the shops would be gone over the weekend.

So far I had been trying not to spend too much. Like all other slaves to temptation, I told myself that as long as I didn't go beyond a certain price on a bag, it wasn't really cheating on my principles.

But as I became increasingly desperate to find a great trophy bargain - a designer product at a brag-worthy discount - my resolution wavered.

As a sage colleague and shopping veteran told me, resisting temptation 'is actually bad'.

'Just give in at the beginning,' she advised. 'If not, it will just grow and the eventual temptation you give in to will be greater than the first one.'

And so I caved. In a moment of weakness, I bought a cute handbag that cost almost as much as my desktop computer.

Was it the right thing to do? Probably not. Was it exorbitant and self-indulgent and hedonistic? Definitely.

But does it feel good? You bet.

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