It’s annual sales time, and if you are looking for a bargain then Xinyi New Life Square is the place to be.
October is shopping month in Taipei, the time when the large department stores hold their annual sales. During my first year in Taipei I think I was the only person who didn’t know they were on. ‘Why are there so many people here,’ I wondered, as I was stuck in traffic jam in front of the Taipei City Government MRT station, near the Hankyu Department store. Obviously I hadn’t watched the news footage of traffic disrupted by people dashing across town for a bargain. Nor did I look out one of the windows at work to see the colour-coded lines of people patiently waiting to be let in to their store of choice during the sales.
This year the sales began a fortnight ago with the Sogo Department stores along Zhongxiao East Road. My father, who was visiting from Australia, declared one Friday afternoon that he wanted to check out that particular area. It was not until after he had set off (by himself!) that we realised the annual sales had just started. I was sure he would get lost. Or suffer claustrophobia. Or both.
My Dad is not a natural shopper. I remember years ago going shopping with him in a mall back in Australia. I swung into a clothing shop to browse the latest fashions; he paced back and forth outside the shop until I came out. Somehow, I didn’t feel much like shopping after that.
But Dad not only found his way home, he found some bargains. I was amazed when he returned home after a few hours heavily laden with department store shopping bags — and some lovely presents for my step mother. I was surprised with his good taste in selecting a lovely azure coloured jewellery gift set for her birthday. He had enjoyed himself: my Dad, the avowed anti-shopper.
From 18 to 31 October, Shinkong Mitsukoshi in Xinyi Place is on sale. I was on my way home earlier this week, and thought I would just pass by on the way. Talk about people! Talk about bargains! Heavily laden with things I NEEDED (I am trying to convince myself I am still a frugalista), I was proud of my astute purchases.
I went back this afternoon for more, this time to look for handbags and this time with Mr Taiwanxifu (my ‘I am not a handbag’ husband, is oddly enough something of a handbag expert). Smug with the ‘savings’ I had made from my earlier purchase, I was stunned to realise there were a few freebies that I had missed that he twigged onto. So if you are planning on heading into the sales, here is my advice:
- Cosmetics are all 10 per cent off and most places offer additional gifts. For example, they might offer cosmetic bags or free products if you spend over a certain amount. Check first before making your selection.
- All other products are at least 20 per cent off (the big ‘8’ you may see means 80 per cent of the price, or 20 per cent off the marked price), including of new season clothing. If in doubt, ask the sales staff about specials as they can sometimes be flexible with prices.
- If you spend NT$5,000, you get a voucher for NT$500 to be used in store. If you spend NT$10,000, you get a voucher for NT$1,000. The vouchers are for use by the end of the year. You can have more than one receipt, but you must claim the vouchers on the same day as your purchases. The counter for claming vouchers this is hidden in unusual places; for A8 Mitsukoshi, the redemption area is behind the kitchenware on Level 7.
- If you use your credit card, most companies will give you a reward for a large purchase. The sales clerk should point this out to you (although mine didn’t). You must claim on the same day as your shopping to get your gift or voucher. Depending on what is on offer, you might want to split your purchases up so you can have separate receipts (i.e. if you spend over NT$5,000 you might get one present but not two for NT$10,000)
- We were given a complementary sample of hair grooming products. I am not sure why. But when you get to the redemption area you will see three lines. They are all for separate things so line up at each. Sometimes the staff will need to check your credit card so have it handy.
- Many of the stallholders in the department store will also give you complementary gifts if you make large purchases. For example, I bought some clothing in the child/maternity area on A8 Level 4 and the sales lady gifted me a box of infant clothing. All for nothing and simply because I purchased more than one item from the same shop.
- If you are using a credit card, it might take a while to process because Mitsukoshi does not have many cash registers. And if you have a tax exemption card, it will take even longer so bring something to read. Don’t forget to claim a 5 per cent tax rebate if you spend up big and are an overseas traveller.
If you still have energy left after shopping at the A4, A8, A9 and A11 Xinyi Mitsukoshi stores, you can head over to the Hankyu Department Store which is also on sale until this Sunday. Happy shopping — I dare you to walk through the sales and not spot a bargain.