Off-season discounts and sales are a rage. Before the practice started in India, genuine sops on merchandise were accredited to Westerners. The special homecomings of our relations abroad were always eagerly awaited. The reception was an event, but the focus of observation was the hefty suitcases they carried, obviously containing goodies for us. I was always perplexed by the yawning gap between the actual price tags and the discounted prices since such things were unheard of here in the 70s and even the 80s.
Mesmerised by the jeans mania way back in the mid-70s, I requested my aunt to fetch a pair of jeans of a popular brand for me from abroad on their next visit. Alas, the baggage was sans my jeans. "Sorry, no sale or off-season discounts on the item," she remarked nonchalantly.
The concept started with "inflated price" sales in India. Slowly, with the influx of multinationals, off-season discounts got all commodities and services in their ambit.
The end of cold war in 1989 saw a considerable dip in military activity across the world. An obvious fallout was a drop in arms procurement golobally. The Gulf War soon thereafter, however, made everyone realise that peace is temporary and war a second nature of humans. Temporary lulls serve as off-seasons for some countries to procure arms at competitive prices. Third-world countries seize this opportunity to go for second-hand steals from their advanced brethren.
Over the years, opportunistic discounts have spread to all departments of business. Multiplexes, airlines...you name it …the list is endless. A few years ago, I was interacting with the director of a private educational institution, and the topic of our discussion was the impact of the global recession, particularly on recruitments with corporates even doling out pink slips to their employees. I asked the director about the effect of recession on the intake of students taking up courses other than the popular ones. He cheerfully quipped, "Colonel saab, we are offering off-season discounts on fees to attract students."
Tourist destinations offer discounts depending on the time of the year. The other day, our golfing gang was engaged in a pow-wow over the Goa sojourn of SAD-BJP leaders of Punjab. The discussion started with a gentleman condemning the act. Though everybody silently nodded, one of us sounded an optimistic note, "Why should you grudge an excursion just because they are in the limelight. They too deserve unwinding." This view was also well-received. The conversation concluded with all four of us arriving at an amicable end. We all were, however, concerned over the use of taxpayers' moolah for personal pleasure, just in case it was true, just when the quietest of us remarked in his typical style, "Assuming the worst to be true, it was however kind of them to go on a business-cum-pleasure trip during off-season...indeed very considerate. Thank God for small mercies."