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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

summer sales!!

this just in--- our ever-faithful checking of the french govt DGCCRF website has paid off-- the sale dates for paris have just been announced-- and they are june 28 to august 5. so set your alarms and mark your calendars for this twice yearly sale event, called the soldes in french. read on for more....

The scoop:

When I meet visitors to Paris, they are often searching the city looking for a bargain, disappointed to not see any sale signs in their favorite boutiques. Let me tell you why--in France, by law, sales (“soldes”) are held only twice a year, with one sale period starting in January and the other in July. The government decides when the sales will be held and announces the official dates just days before the sales start. The stores then flutter around getting ready and shopaholics (myself included!) wait with bated breath for the opening day of the sales. Sale prices start at about 25-30% off for the first few days, and grow bigger as the sales go on. By the end of the sales [6 weeks maximum], the reductions can be up to 75% off.

The strategy:

Strategy for the soldes depends on what you are looking for. My advice is that if it is a one of a kind item and you know it is going on sale, snatch it up on the first day, even if it is only 20% off. However, if there are millions of the cashmere sweater you’ve been dreaming of, wait a week and go back to purchase it at a more reduced rate. Essentially, it’s all about the gamble-- and what you are willing to risk.

As for returns, I encourage you to ask before you buy. Although by law shops are supposed to allow you to make an exchange, this policy is not always in practice. If you are not sure about an item, see if the shop will hold it for you for a short period of time while you make your decision.

The snag:

French sales are not limited to just a few items or a few brands; instead the entire outgoing collection is usually on sale. This means that this season’s hottest blouse, pant, shoe, and bag will probably all be on sale, if you still want them at the end of the season. Everything from electronics to shoes to linens and more goes on sale at the same time, so it is easy to get overwhelmed! I try to make a list before hitting the shops to keep from getting sidetracked by flashing signs beckoning me over to a bargain that I don’t need.

The soldes are a great time to pick up classic Parisian pieces that never go out of style, like Longchamp “Le Pliage” bags, a great fitting trench coat, or some Repetto ballerina flats. Longing for a Hermes scarf? Keep your eye out for their sale announcement in Le Figaro or call the store to ask—the sale lasts only a few days and takes place at a special location.

The summary:

The frenzy of French soldes can have you running around town and your credit card might never cool down, but it is a memorable experience. If you happen to miss the sales, don’t worry. Most shops have in-store promotions year round that are almost sales, but not quite. As they cannot technically be called soldes outside of the official periods, these mini sales are often called “promotions” or “fin de series” (“end of series”). Just keep your eye open for bargains, and I know you’ll find plenty of things to make you smile.

6 Tips for Doing the Sales from a Chic Shopper:

1. Hold a stake out: Visit the store before the sale starts, see how many of your beloved item is still in stock, and try to get some information from the vendeuse about its sale price.

2. Avoid the first day: The stores are packed with people and while marathon shopping can be a great sport, shopping the sales on the first day is bound to leave you frustrated.

3. Shop with a friend: She’ll talk you out of that pair of neon green cowboy boots, even if they are 75% off.

4. Get out of bed: Go first thing in the morning to avoid lines or look for special opening hours during the evenings or on weekends.

5. Dress for success: If shopping for clothing, wear layers and clothing that is simple to remove to facilitate trying on.

6. Shop well-armed: Bring multiple forms of payment—credit cards and cash—just in case.