THE winter sales have started across the whole France, however many shops have already lowered prices in a bid to boost sales in the current gloomy economic climate.
Promotions have exploded in recent weeks to try and save a difficult season, with high-street clothes shops seeing their worst figures since the last crisis at the beginning of the 1990s, according to the French Fashion Institute (IFM).
However between 1990 and 2007, while the prices fell, sales of clothes rose by around 40%. This year, prices have been cut but sales are continuing to fall.
Some of the most popular high street shops are now offering significant reductions, including Naf Naf which has reductions of up to 40% off when you buy two items, 40% off at Etam and household shops Mathon and Becquet offering reductions of 50% and 60%.
Many traditional catalogues such as la Redoute have continuous discounts of up to 65% to compete with internet shopping. Supermarkets such as Carrefour and Leclerc are also lowering prices, and started selling off toys, clothes and chocolates at cut-prices from Boxing Day.
Until now sales in France have only been allowed to take place twice a year, in winter and summer.
However from this year the government has relaxed the regulations giving shops more freedom over sales periods.
Lorraine residents have already had chance to pick up bargains with three departments, the Meuse, the Meurthe-et-Moselle and the Moselle launching sales on January 2.
The region requested a special dispensation to start the period early to compete with neighbouring Luxembourg and Belgium who started their sales on January 2 and 3.
Federation FEH which represents high street chains such as Zaro, Celio and Etam, had petitioned against the dispensation, claiming it only increased the distortion of competition between French departments.