Talal al-Helou roams the markets of Cairo at this time of year -- the winter sales season -- taking advantage of discounted prices to buy what he needs for the house.
Al-Helou, who is in his 50s, told Al-Shorfa he has grown accustomed to purchasing off-season necessities during the sales because prices are constantly on the increase.
"I tend to buy my children's winter clothes for next year as well as essential household and electrical appliances," he said.
This year, al-Helou noticed "serious" discounts in comparison with past years, as well as increased competition among businesses to attract customers during a dormant economy.
The month-long winter sales season began February 4th in most Egyptian provinces.
"This year's sale season is expected to see high demand on the part of Egyptian shoppers after a wave of inactivity plagued the markets in the past several months," said Ahmed Mamdouh, who monitors prices and detects fraud at the Ministry of Supply and Domestic Trade.
Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, which fall in the sales season, are expected to bolster consumer activity, he said, and there is a possibility the sales will be extended.
Some of the 3,000 shops in Cairo and Giza provinces holding sales began offering discounts at an earlier date because they sell international brands which have specially-designated global dates for their sales season, he said.
Each merchant must obtain approval from their respective supply directorate and declare the items they intend to put on sale, Mamdouh said, as the government imposes sales controls and mechanisms.
Merchants must clearly display the percentage of each discount in stores, and both the original and discounted prices on sale items, he said. They also are required to clearly show the sizes and origins of merchandise.
Consumer protection groups are intensifying patrols in the provinces to uncover any violations, Mamdouh said.
Discounts range between 20% and 70% and primarily affect the price of clothes, electrical appliances and home furnishings, said Raed al-Salmouni, a market controller in Cairo.
Market activity has been "excellent" since the start of the sales and merchants have generally observed government conditions. To date, he said, violations have been "minor": Some shop owners have marked discounted prices in places that are difficult to spot, and others have failed to label items with detailed sizing information, product description or country of origin.
The various chambers of commerce have formed committees to monitor market activity, he said.
Islam al-Ali, who owns a clothing shop in downtown Cairo, welcomed the sales season.
"The markets really needed it, to make up for losses after the recent lull in the market," he said.
Interest in sales this year has been "more than excellent", al-Ali said, noting that customer demand has been greater outside the downtown area, particularly at night, and for women's and children's clothes.