There were times when shoppers were lured into spending anything between Dh200 to Dh400 to qualify for the raffles that offered from TV's to petty consumer items like toasters and grinders. And these promotions would come once or twice in a year.
Times have changed. Small departmental stores have disappeared. They have been replaced with upmarket mega malls. Promotions have come to stay year-round, accordingly the gifts and prizes have become expensive while amount to be spent has come down to Dh 50.
Television sets, videos, tape recorders, cameras and washing machines are now passe. The "in-thing" are luxury cars, four-wheelers by the dozens.
A leading departmental store with branches all over the country says, "Nobody can say when the change took place. One of us in the business started and all followed suit and so came the cars."
Now it is just not any cars - the Japanese and Korean automobiles are being gradually elbowed out by European and British cars.
A recent addition in this war of promotions is the prestigious Jaguar. One leading chain of department stores is raffling this car at an unbelievable tag of just Dh 50.
But the million dollar question is who pays for those gleaming swanky cars that are raffled away throughout the year? Where is the catch? Is it the unsuspecting customer who is shelling out for the cost of the car or the shrewd seller?
A befitting answer from a leading businessman was, "the bottom line is that no businessman worth his name would ever give away anything free, now you make your own guesses."
Obviously it is the naive customer. You will see his trolley loaded, buying more than his needs, picking up things he would not in normal times in an attempt to multiply his chances of winning the raffle.
In the past, the raffle coupon had to be filled with the details of the customer and an official of the municipality would be invited for the draw on the schedule date and the winners name would be published in newspapers.
Now all one has to do is to drop the coupon in the barrel and look for the results pasted on the entrance to the stores.
However, department stores and mega malls say the entire exercise is supervised by the municipality and there is no hank-panky.
While authorities point out that there is nothing illegal about conducting promotions throughout the year once they are authorised by the municipality
Where will this race end? Like the TV and video, some months from now cars will also lose their attraction. Will it be luxury villas and houses?
"Wait and see," says an advertising executive,' we have clients who want new and innovative ideas and we are working on surprises."
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