When buying handbags abroad is actually cheaper

PETALING JAYA: From next May, Malaysian “handbag shopaholics” say they will consider purchasing luxury products abroad in view of the High Value Goods Tax (HVGT) implementation.

But with six months to go, those who have been buying branded items said they will spend locally first before the expected price increase.

Julia Matthews said she prefers to shop locally as she can enjoy additional boutique offers.

“I like to buy from boutiques in Kuala Lumpur because of the VIP treatment I receive when purchasing a branded product.

“The boutique’s sales associate will walk you through the bag you are interested in.

“Sometimes we do get extra gifts and that is why I prefer to shop locally,” she said.

Julie, who is a general manager at a private oil and gas company, said she might consider obtaining the services of a personal shopper when the tax is implemented.

“If there is a wide difference in prices, I might as well purchase the bag from personal shopper services.

“Buying a bag often requires some research.

“You do not simply get a bag because it is like an investment. Bags could fetch more than what they cost initially, ” she said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, in winding up the debate on Budget 2024, said that the HVGT will be implemented from May 1.

In the tabling of the Budget last month, he said a tax of 5% to 10% will be introduced.

Another handbag collector, Alisha Hadi said that she prefers to buy bags overseas as there are options to claim the value-added tax (VAT) refund for tourists.

“If I purchase a bag from a luxury store, for example a Louis Vuitton bag in Paris, then I can claim for a VAT refund.

“Even with the ringgit’s depreciation, some bags are cheaper in Europe by about RM1,000,” she said.

The lawyer also said that she would spend on limited edition bags that are sold as pre-loved items online.

“Right now, the local online community selling pre-loved or vintage handbags is growing and I have bought a few.

“I believe that handbags are a form of investment so I would also want to get them at a better price.

“I also might consider seeking a personal shopper if it is necessary,” she said.

Syazana Rose, who has been a personal shopper for more than five years, predicted that more locals will seek her services once the HVGT is in effect.

“Even with the exchange rate and additional personal shopper charges, it is still much more reasonable to shop outside of Malaysia for luxury goods.

“People tend to hire a personal shopper because they don’t have to travel. Often personal shoppers have insider tips. We also have good relationships with sales associates so we know when things are available,” she said.

Syazana said her fees would depend on the item to be purchased, adding that her clients have no problem paying her charges.

Norhasmawati Mustapha, who has been offering personal shopper services since 2010, said Malaysians will continue to find better deals, especially for mid-level luxury brands, abroad.

She said that leather items from US brand outlets are 50% cheaper, depending on the season.

“Brand outlets in Malaysia are still considered expensive and there are more deals offered in the United States,” she said.

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