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Slow start for summer sales

Shoppers head online for the best bargains as shops report disappointing first week

DISCOUNTS of up to 70% have failed to attract consumers to the shops in the first week of the summer sales - but online takings are up significantly.

Initial figures for this year's soldes suggest fashion chains and independent retailers are struggling and the big department stores' performance is flat

The only growth area so far has been on the internet. Online sales are up 37% year on year, according to e-commerce federation Fevad.

On the high street, fashion retailers' body FEH estimates that takings are down 5% on the same period last year.

The Fédération Nationale de l'Habillement, which represents 37,000 independent clothes shops, said the first week had been "largely negative".

It is hoping for an improvement this week, now that workers have received their July salary.

The sales started a week earlier than normal this year following complaints from shops in Paris that the previous start date penalised the capital because it coincided with the summer getaway.

The soldes are heavily regulated in France, with official start and end dates set each year. This year they end on July 26.

They are the only time of the year that shops are legally allowed to sell merchandise at a loss.

Retailers can run promotions at other times of the year - but the primary aim of the sales is to get rid of old stock. However, stocks are much lower this year because many people bought summer clothes early because of the good weather in the spring.

Until 2008, sales were only allowed to take place twice a year, in winter and summer. Shops now have the freedom to choose two additional weeks in the year, called soldes flottants (floating sales).

Photo: CARRÉ PIXEL - Fotolia.com

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