The dates of the large nationwide sales in France are determined by the central administration. There are just two main periods to look out for – winter (soldes d’hiver) in January/February and summer (soldes d’été) in June/July.
- Summer sales 2014 start on June 25 and end on July 29.
- Winter sales 2015 start on January 7 and end on February 10.
Each sales period has a definitive start date that is uniform across the country. The timing of the end of the sale is more flexible as the date is determined by each Department. However, expect a sales period to be about five weeks long.
The savings during this time are considerable – usually 30-50%, and as high as 70% as the sale period goes on. As stores are not allowed to bring in merchandise especially for sales, prices are reduced on what is in the shop. This is great news if you are after a little black dress at a high street price as even the major designer labels such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, et al drop their prices, and also if you are shopping for building materials and supplies at the main bricolage stores. You can really find a bargain.
An easy way to sales shop is to head to France’s main department stores such as Galeries Lafayette, Printemps or Le Bon Marché. During sale times, they are legally allowed to discount stock from the previous year, as well as line that have been over-produced or are being discontinued.
Online sales are increasing in scope every year and they offer extra features like free shipping as well as reduced prices.
Check return policies as many stores will not reimbourse your purchase but will offer a credit voucher instead with a specific time limit to use it.
• Sylvia Edwards Davis, Property & Living Editor