No one has ever accused Daiso of being a pretentious shop that sells overpriced products. But unfortunately that doesn’t excuse you from using your brain when you walk in. While everything might cost only $2, some of these products are actually even cheaper elsewhere.
Yes, we know it’s hard to believe but there are indeed things you can buy in Singapore for less than $2. Here’s what to avoid on your next trip.
[Note: This article has been updated for 2019.]
1. CABLE ORGANISERS
These are marketed as an ingenious way to keep your cables and wires organised. But take a closer look and you’ll realise they’re nothing but bits of foam cut into cute animal shapes. Gotta hand it to Daiso for getting people to part with $2 for some pieces of foam.
Daiso’s sponge might have a cheery smiley face on it, presumably to make you forget what a drag it is to have to do the dishes. But what it really makes you forget is that you’re paying $2 for a single friggin’ sponge.
In fact, the store has an entire section of incredibly overpriced sponges, many of which have smiley faces and/or cute animals on them. I guess they’ve found a winning formula?
(FYI – cheapest place to get sponges is Value Dollar, where I get them for $1 for a dozen. But you can also find cheap multi-packs at other neighbourhood shops.)
3. RUBBER BANDS
Plastering words like “elastico latex” and “100% pure rubber” on the box still doesn’t take away the fact that Daiso is charging $2 for a box of rubber bands, which you can buy for next to nothing at the neighbourhood shop. Or better still, just save the rubber bands next time you dabao chicken rice and you can get them for free.
Daiso is clearly targeting people who have never step foot in a hardware shop in their lives. Before you pay $2 for a measly 3 S-hooks, you might want to try your friendly neighbourhood barang barang shop first.
But what’s worse is that Daiso sells these stick-on and suction hooks. At $2 a pack, they’re not particularly expensive, but in my opinion they’re still a total waste of money because they just don’t stick. I’ve been burned numerous times so I’m just going to stick with 3M from now on.
5. CANNED/PACKET DRINKS
Daiso has a pretty extensive food and drinks section, but take note that many of the products on sale are actually more expensive than their supermarket counterparts.
Take these $2 drinks in the fridge, for example. Your typical packet drink costs maybe $2.40 for 6 packets at NTUC, i,e $0.40 a packet. And don’t get me started on the milky drink on the bottom row, which looks like the Japanese version of Hot Kid ($1 a can). That means Daiso is charging you almost double the price for the same thing.
6. PAPER BAG
You could have saved those nice paper bags from Muji to reuse as a gift bag – but you didn’t. Now you have to pay $2 for a single paper bag from Daiso. Sucks to be you.
No, this bag of overpriced flour isn’t going to magically turn your muffins into the amazing confections you ate at that Japanese patisserie in Osaka. Do yourself a favour and buy your flour from a supermarket or a baking shop like Phoon Huat instead – $2 can get you 1kg of flour!
Thanks to a reader who pointed out that Daiso’s erasers are incredibly overpriced, we checked out the eraser section. Sure enough, these work out to about $1 PER ERASER, which is silly considering you can get one for about $0.30 at the stationery shop.
If you don’t know where the nearest Popular bookstore is, Lazada has erasers starting at $0.20 a pop. Go wild.
9. PARTY SUPPLIES
These cherry blossom-themed paper plates and napkins are certainly adorable, but just imagine how you’d feel when your guests throw them away after eating bee hoon and chicken wings on them.
10. PLANT POTS
This one is a tip from resident green thumb Eugenia: Most Daisos have a decent gardening section, but their plastic pots are pretty overpriced – you can usually buy small plastic pots from plant nurseries like Far East Flora for under $1 each.
11. CLEANING TOOLS
I bought these interchangeable, snap-on cleaning tools from Daiso, feeling all smug that I spent just $10 on a set of cleaning mops and brushes, when the similar Muji cleaning system would have cost at least $40. Well, they’re certainly cheap, but in my opinion also a total waste of money. They have lots of stiff parts that don’t rotate and just don’t work very well. Buy at your peril.
12. ANG BAO
Yes, I know these are very cute, but show some restraint can or not!? You’re already giving money away in your ang baos – no need to add on to the cost by actually paying $2 for a few paper envelopes. Not when you can get them for free from banks, petrol kiosks, etc. during the Chinese New Year period. In fact, I’m pretty sure you have some lying around at home. If not, just ask around.
Don’t be fooled by the “Value Spice” label – at $2 for a small bottle, these mini jars of spices are extremely not worth your money. Consider this: A 100g packet of turmeric costs $0.75 on RedMart, and this $2 jar contains something like 12g of spices. That’s… what, a 22X markup?
I don’t even want to think about it, because I totally paid this ridiculous price to have these oh-so-cute spices sitting on my kitchen counter. Dammit.
SILVER LINING: DAISO ACTUALLY HAS AN EXCHANGE POLICY!
Hey, we all have moments of weakness when we “accidentally” fill our carts with cutesy sponges and erasers. If you have buyer’s remorse, you’ll be glad to know that you can actually exchange most brand new items at Daiso. That’s definitely commitment to customer satisfaction.
Just remember to keep the original receipt and do the exchange within 7 days of purchase. In my experience, the Daiso staff are always very nice about it and won’t even ask you for the reason.
This article was first publishd in MoneySmart.