Paying Retail or Battling for Bargains?

Photos by Erica Simone

Paying Retail or Battling for Bargains?

Parler Paris Nouvellettre®
Your taste of life in Paris and France
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Paris, France

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Christine LagardeDear Parler Paris Reader,

Yesterday afternoon the ‘window dressers’ were busy posting their “soldes” signs and stripping their mannequins naked in preparation for today’s launch of the annual summer sales. Each “département” of France designates different dates for the official sales — Paris sales will last until July 28th.

This past April, Madame Christine Lagarde, Ministre de l’Economie, announced the ‘modernization’ of the laws surrounding the bi-annual sale periods (summer and winter, about 5 to 6 weeks each) that enable retailers with a bit more flexibility to time their markdown dates up to a month prior or a month after, but only with authorization by the government.

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Still, it’s shocking to an American used to the concept of ‘free enterprise’ to think that anyone, especially the government, could dictate to a merchant when to mark down their wares or not! Unthinkable!

It’s a matter of view point. From a capitalistic concept, the idea of free enterprise is that every merchant may buy and sell their wares as they choose, with some regulations of course, to prevent unjustifiable abuse of power. In this more socialistic democracy, the regulations are seen as a way of protecting both merchants and consumers by ‘leveling the playing field,’ so to speak.

The reality is, however, that (from my American point of view), the consumers suffer greatly. We consumers pay full retail most of the year with little opportunity to save money, even on unwanted merchandise. Of course, that’s true for the merchant, too. He may have wanted to rid himself of the merchandise and had no opportunity, either!

When the sale period arrives, it becomes chaos in the stores and boutiques! Everyone is scrambling to find bargains. I’ve seen fights break out between two feisty shoppers, vying for the same item!

And if for some reason the sale period just isn’t convenient for you, you lose out. Simple as that.

I avoid the “soldes” ‘like the plague.’ Walking down rue de Rivoli between rue du Louvre and the Hôtel de Ville is like maneuvering Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. I just received a text message on my cell phone: “-15% supp. sur les soldes du 26/6 au 4/07 dans vôtre magazin BHV (articles signalé

s, conditions carte sur dernier relevé).” That means that at the BHV department store, I can get an extra 15% discount on certain items when I use my BHV credit card. Yeah!

But will I take advantage of that? Likely not…fighting the crowds in the store is not my ‘idea of heaven.’ I’m staying away! Guess I’ll be paying retail the rest of my life in France…

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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