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 News - 01-Mar-2013

Shopping Tips For Mauritius

Mauritius is a shopper's paradise. From the traditional shops marketing wares from local craftspeople, to the high-end stores featuring designer clothing and expensive jewellery, there is something to suit every wallet here. Shopping in this country whilst is an art form. It is not just a case of walking into a store and being able to instantly get the best deal. It is about shopping smart and finding the deals and the shops nobody else can. Mauritius shopping is not like English and American shopping, there are some notable differences.

When to Go

The major cities generally open up for business from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm on Monday through Saturday. Sunday hours are much shorter as the majority of stores only open until noon, but smaller shops sometimes do not open at all. Sunday in this country is still considered a day of rest.

The fishing villages and small stalls do not necessarily abide by the above rules. There are no laws on these smaller stalls and craftspeople can open for as long as they want. Ask ahead to find out about their opening hours or it could just be a case of getting lucky.

Duty Frees

There is a new type of store in the Mauritius. This is the duty-free shop. Normally, visitors expect to only find these in airports. However, the government have implemented an initiative where stores can apply for a licence to open a tourist-only store. The only way to buy anything from these shops is to display a valid passport and an airline ticket.

Don't worry about finding these shops; they have clear signs outside in multiple languages that state who can shop there. The normal VAT on products is 15%, but in these shops, the fee has been eliminated to lower prices. Take note, it is usually only certain well-known brands that operate tourist-only stores. Never expect the same concessions from a local craftsperson.

Best Buys

Some countries are known for certain products. Mauritius has a long history of colonisation by the British, French, and Dutch; therefore, it is a cultural melting pot. It is no wonder, then, that travellers who visit the Mauritius have a wide array of products from which to choose. Here are just some of the best buys from this wonderful country:

• This Indian Ocean nation is primarily known for its textiles industry. Purchase suits, trousers, knitwear, and shirts, all from local craftspeople and small shops. They come at affordable prices and this is why many people prefer to pack light and buy clothing when they arrive.

• Pottery, basketwork, and cut stones are all in-demand. This is where small stalls and tiny businesses really flourish. Many local Mauritians create these products in their spare time to help supplement their wages.

• Authentic local cuisine is also in high demand. Those who stay in self-catering villas love to sample the various chillies, spices, and fruit jellies bought from local communities.

• A particularly interesting concept is one many tourists do not know about. The Coffret des Iles delivery service allows tourists to purchase gifts and have them sent to Germany, the UK, or France within 72 hours. It is the new alternative to sending a post card!

The Taxi Trade

Taxi drivers often negotiate for a lower fare with visitors if they can stop at certain shops along the way. They do this because they get a very high commission from the shop owners for bringing tourists direct to their stores. It is sometimes a worthwhile activity if travellers feel bored and have nothing in particular scheduled for the next hour or two.

Ultimate Tips for Making the Most of Mauritian Shopping

Whilst shopping, remember to avoid trouble by keeping purses and belongings in closed pockets. The Mauritian people are known for their friendliness and commitment to making visitors feel welcome, yet there is always a small minority who feel the need to steal from tourists. Keep all belongings secure as it is always better to be safe than sorry!

Shops in this country do not have standard prices. The owners set their own prices and compete to make the most money. For travellers, this is an excellent opportunity to make some major savings. Always shop around to ensure the best price. Prices in one village can turn out to be much lower than another village. Furthermore, try to bargain with the shopkeeper. It is considered normal in this country; therefore, any trained haggler need not worry about hurting anybody.

Be wary of hawkers. These figures tend to haunt the beaches and the roadsides where they peddle all manner of products. It is not as if these products are stolen, but the prices tend to go higher and the quality is questionable. Even in shops, it is wise to check the quality in case something looks second-hand. To avoid hawkers it is nearly always best to hire the services of a friendly local who knows how to handle themselves on the streets.

Finally, before going home make sure any of the ethnic items bought are allowed through customs. Many European countries do not allow people to bring in fresh and dried food due to fears over contamination with certain tropical viruses native to the Indian Ocean region. Hotels often have comprehensive information on these rules. If in any doubt, however, check out the website of the relevant country's border control agency.

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