As the official sales begin in France today, we summarise the key points to know to ensure you get the best deals and avoid getting duped.
‘Les soldes’ in France have nationally set dates and specific consumer rights, and last for six weeks. This year they will run today Wednesday, January 12 to Tuesday, February 8, 2022, except in a few cases of overriding local regulations.
While shops are allowed to hold sales at other times of the year under certain conditions, the official ‘soldes’ have set rules.
Shops are allowed to sell their goods at a loss
Shops can not restock with new goods during the sales
Products must have been available for at least one month before the sales in order to be included
Shops are allowed to limit sales to only one part of their shop or certain goods
Shops can list new, full-price products at the same time as offering some goods on sale
Shops can choose the discount that applies (40%, 50%, 60% etc).
Shops must list the original price of the item next to the new sale price
Can a shop ban customers from trying on sales clothes?
Yes, this is possible. If this happens to you, make sure you check the returns or exchange policy before buying in case the item does not fit or is not suitable.
What issues should I watch out for?
According to consumer group UFC-Choisir, the most common scams include:
Shops inflating the original price of the item, to make shoppers believe they are getting a better deal or a discount than they really are
The sale of inferior, poor quality products during the sale
Can shops have a ‘no returns, no exchanges policy during the sales?
Yes, but this must be very clearly stated at the time of purchase. In practice, many retailers agree to take back an item or exchange it if you change your mind (size, cut, colour, etc.).
It does not apply in the case of a genuine fault with the item (see guarantee rules below).
Is the guarantee on a discounted product the same during the sales?
Yes, the rules on guarantees are the same whether the item is on sale or not. If there is a fault with the product, or some other issue, the shop must exchange or refund the item.
How do I get a refund for an item with a fault?
You can either send a registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt to the seller or manufacturer, enclosing supporting documents with this letter, such as sales receipts, delivery note, repair quote estimate, etc.
It is also possible to go to the shop, with the same proof. If the product itself has a fault or issue, you should receive a refund or working replacement.
Are the rules the same on the internet for online sales shopping?
Yes, the rules for sales on the internet are exactly the same as in the shops, except for one major difference: customers of goods purchased online have a right of return of 14 days from the day they receive the item.
The customer has the right to exchange the item or ask for a refund without giving a reason. The customer may have to pay for the return shipping costs.
Does the right of refund or exchange apply to all items bought online?
No. Any product sold in plastic packaging (video games, DVDs) cannot be returned if it has been opened. This is also the case for underwear or cosmetics for hygiene reasons.
When is the best time to take advantage of the sales?
This is a highly-contested question! The best selection of goods will be available on the first day, but these are also the most popular and crowded days.
Discounts increase the longer the sales go on, but the selection of products will by definition decrease.
For example,in the first démarque (mark-down), they are generally reduced by up to 40% maximum, around a week to 10 days later there is a second reduction, with many items at 50% off, and then later still there is a third, with items at more than 50% off – though usually by this point there is less choice.
Will this year’s sales be popular, despite Covid?
This year’s national sales are likely to be as popular as ever in France, especially after a run-up to Christmas in which 48% of the public said they felt less financially flush, according to a December 2021 report by Viavoice for HEC Paris, Le Figaro and BFM Business.