Why Filipinos in UAE are best bargain shoppers

Gulf News #Pinoy demystifies Filipinos’ next biggest obsession: shopping

“Sorry, no time to chat; I have to rush back to work,” a Filipina carrying two plump shopping bags says in Filipino as she sprints out of the Dubai World Trade Centre.

It is 11am on Wednesday, an hour after the start of the five-day Eid Shopping Fiesta at the Shaikh Maktoum Hall. The place is already buzzing with people, many of them Filipinos.

There are about 300 brands participating in this end-of-season sale, and prices have been marked down big time. There are branded apparel, shoes, bags, watches, perfumes and cosmetics from many of the UAE’s big retailers. There are Dh10 bundle offers, and other items that cost less than Dh50.

Mia Orbeso, a 27-year-old nurse, already has a trolley full of items to rush to the check-out counter.

She still has to go to work later, but shared that she had to get to the sale before everyone else.

I was here since 8am. You need to be early to get the best items,” she tells Gulf News #Pinoy, sharing her top shopping tip.

Orbeso said that she saved a big chunk of her salary since February for the sale season. “I made a list of the items that I wanted before coming here,” she reveals. She’s buying her dad a pair of shoes, and a few more for her nephews back in the Philippines. She also took a pile of shirts on sale and some perfumes for herself.

Shopaholics’ delight

With sale after sale popping up in Dubai and elsewhere in the UAE, there is no doubt that many Filipinos are drawn to shopping. You only need to look at the crowd during mall sales to find out.
Why do Filipinos love shopping and why do they love spending?

“It is one of the communities [that] is always seen when you have sales or such deals because they love spending on themselves, they like to pamper themselves,” says Kamal Lalwani, general manager of Concept Brands Group, which is organising the Eid sale.

Lalwani says Filipinos are smart buyers who don’t mind spending on the brands they love.

“They are brand conscious and they know a lot more about the brands that are available internationally compared to any other nationality,” he says.

“They like to be dressed well, updated, and you can see they smell good!” he adds, laughing.

Thrill of branded bargain hunt

They also like to shop for gifts for their families back home, says Rod Rico, a merchandiser.
“We look for branded items that can be brought at a bargain and then save them so we can send them as gifts to people back home,” Rico says.

Maria Carla Botardo, a teller for a money exchange company in Dubai, echoed the same sentiment.

“Bargain shopping is cheaper, fits the budget and you’re getting branded items, which is what our families back home like,” she says.

Rolando David, a 24-year-old interior designer, says he sets a budget for himself and makes sure he only spends within the limit.

“I am quite updated with the retail prices, so I can always spot whether the prices of items have really been marked down,” he says.

Rolando David at the Eid Shopping Fiesta at Dubai World Trade Centre.

David says he’ll often buy fashion essentials for himself, and a few more that he can sell to friends. “I then earn enough to cover the cost of the items I bought for myself,” he says.

No doubt Filipinos love the thrill of a bargain hunt and actually love being in big crowds to forage for bargains, Botardo says. “They find it happier, more fulfilling,” she says.

Top 3 bargain shopping tips

1. Come early to get the first pickings
– Rod Rico, merchandiser

2. Have a shopping list to save time
– Mia Orbeso, nurse

3. Buy what you want within budget
– Roland David, interior designer


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