When faced with a sale, the fight or flight reaction often kicks in. While many may be sceptical about the actual bargains to be had, DSF should not be overlooked, especially when it comes to furnishing a home. While shopkeepers remain coy about the discounts they plan to offer, especially this year when business has been down on previous ones, you can be sure that they are keen to get rid of stock ordered during the good old pre-recession days. And that's good news for us, the buyers.
Generally you can be guaranteed discounts from 30 per cent to as much as 80 per cent off retail prices, so many items will actually be at cost price. Add to that the incentive of raffles and special draws if the store is located in a mall, and you start wondering how anyone will be able to pay full retail price for anything ever again. While retailers will be hoping for a bumper sales season, cautious buying is a sign of the times. As a rule of thumb it's usually best to stick with some basic guidelines rather than sallying forth aimlessly. That's true whether you're buying lingerie, linen or lighting.
The first day of the sale in The One's flagship store in Jumeirah is the nearest the UAE gets to the annual Harrod's sale in London. A surge of people and a sense of drama is heightened by the heaped trolleys of customers buying all manner of items. Discounts can be up to 70 per cent and some things are ridiculously cheap for the quality. Sofas and chairs are great here but it's also useful to stock up on art and photo frames. As for unexpected presents - this is the place you'll find lots of reserve gifts for friends and family to keep you going throughout the year.
At: Mall of the Emirates, Wafi City, Jumeirah Beach Road and in Khalidiya and Abu Dhabi Mall
The White Company
The beauty about The White Company is that the stock rarely changes as it's always, well, white. So you won't have the feeling you are buying last season's colours. This store works particularly well with our climate, so whether you want to rock the Hamptons beach house look or revamp your romantic boudoir, you'll find all that you need. The bed linen washes well and feels like Frette but at a fraction of the price. The nautically-themed children's accessories are also great for nurseries.
At: Deira City Centre, Wafi City, Mall of the Emirates and The Dubai Mall.Also in Abu Dhabi Mall.
The "art of the table" is a particularly French skill and, while a host of companies has set up in UAE (among them, Guy Degrennes in Festival City), Geneviève Lethu's selection of table and kitchenware remains a favourite. It's not just that the stock includes perennial collections (L'Amour du Voyage for instance) but the colour ways are inspiring. This is a store that is good for Wedding List purchases as well as splurging on new dinner sets.
At: Mercato Mall and Wafi City
We think the vogue for high-gloss furniture can be traced to this store, since it opened in Dubai Mall a few months ago. Its fun, on-trend fashion colours make it a firm favourite for apartment dwellers. They have some accent pieces that we also spied at Graham & Greene in London - for instance, inlaid bone chairs and a funky hot pink chaise longue. This is the store in which to purchase a talking point - not a whole house though.
At: Dubai Mall
Under One Roof
If you've decided that this is the year to 'do something' with your kitchen or bathroom but are stuck for ideas, head down to Under One Roof. They've got a host of ideas that will inspire you. Perhaps all you need is your kitchen units resprayed? Let their Permaglaze team advise you on fashionable glosses. If your bathroom needs to be opened up, why not ditch the dingy shower curtain and get a sleek Roman shower screen or cubicle. You may well also be tempted by a Metris kitchen. Either way, with the special discount during DSF, the spend will feel a lot less.
At: Al Quoz, behind Dubai Garden Centre
One of the best stores to visit to get the feel of a complete look - and you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that this quintessential British brand is not just about pretty florals. Its current collection embraces sleek minimal looks as well as contemporary classics. It's a great place to find lighting and mirrors too, and we suggest that these may be their best bargains on sale - as well, of course, as the fabrics and wallpapers.
At: Mercato Mall
Often overlooked, this store stocks mainly white wooden furniture, such as Welsh dressers, writing desks and kitchen tables. The selection lends a colonial air to the store - hence its name. The accessories are original, too, but we recommend that you stick with larger items and shelving units that can fulfil a multitude of purposes, from bookcases to bathroom units.
At: Town Centre Mall
Hollands & Burton At Home
Already a favourite among the coffee morning set in Dubai, dynamic duo Carolyn Hollands and Debbie Burton owe their success mainly to their choice and stock of fabrics. Jane Churchill, Colefax & Fowler and Manuel Canovas are among the ranges on offer. Their DSF discount also includes their white china range and beautiful Côté Bastide wares from France, which are perfect for presents or for giving yourself a treat.
At: Al Manal Clubhouse, Palm Jumeirah
As a one-stop shop, you can't beat Debenhams' home section for kitchen basics. The store's "designer section" is growing and includes John Rocha, Jasper Conran, Kylie Minogue and Julien MacDonald bed linen. We recommend that you also check the Esprit collection of rugs - they look luxurious and come in a great range of sizes, but are surprisingly affordable. The beauty of Debenhams is that, in addition to its DSF discounts, you can get an additional 20 per cent discount on special days.
At: Deira City Centre, Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates
And So To Bed
Surprisingly, you'll find a lot more than just beds in And So To Bed. There's a huge range of bedroom furniture - from cabinets finished in gold leaf, to eclectic prints, as well as silk and lace bed linen. However, if you want an heirloom bed or have longed to have a four poster, this is one store with great bargains on big-ticket items.
At: Beach Road, Dubai
For design aficionados, Baituti is not to be missed; indeed the word translates as "the person who loves to stay at home". Sharp lines, modern materials and muted colours make for chic style statements. Baituti's sale usually yields big ticket items at more palatable prices and, for discerning shoppers, the value of the item lies in its longevity and design history. So if you are looking for labels such as Mooi, B&B Italia, Casamilano, Serralunga and Promemoria, this is the place to come.
At: Zabeel Road, Mall of the Emirates
Discounts of up to 50 per cent could be enough to sway you towards the zebra skin rug, the sisal carpet or the parquet floor of your dreams. Do not be mislead by the name: the showroom offers traditional Persian rugs as well as a variety of wood floors ranging from laminates to hardwood. Carpetland is best known, though, for its contemporary carpets in bold colours and is well worth investigating if you want to make a style statement in your hallway or living areas.
At: Pyramid Building, Zabeel Road and Village Mall.