It’s that time of the year again, the moment when the government controlled dates for the winter markdown season officially begin and end in France. The soldes debuted last Wednesday, January 11, and will conclude on Tuesday, February 21.
As I’ve mentioned in this space before, the idea of legally controlling markdowns is to theoretically assure unfair competition wherein one retailer could undercut another by beginning its sales earlier in the season. In fact, as every savvy shopper knows, large stores and small boutiques have circumvented the system with “promotions” which allow them to reduce prices at the slightest whim.
While driving home from Paris the other day I was listening to an interview on the radio with the president of the department store, Printemps, who was lamenting the promotions retailers use to move merchandise throughout the year. “It makes it more difficult to have effective, meaningful soldes during the approved periods,” he said.
As a result, the major retailers including Galeries Lafayette, Le Bon Marché and Printemps, are adding entertainment to the mix along with slashed prices. Management is convinced that it’s necessary to spend in order to draw in customers who wish to spend less. Interesting concept.
Typically markdowns start at 30 percent and move up to 40 and 50 percent two weeks in. Unless I’ve been dreaming about something special and fear it will be sold before I can pounce — I hate retail regret — I like to gamble and wait for the second and, if I dare, even the third markdown. Sometimes the strategy works, sometimes it doesn’t. You’ve probably been there and done that, non?
If you’re planning a trip to Paris this summer, the soldes dates are from Wednesday, June 28, through Tuesday, August 8.
Do you have a shopping strategy for markdown seasons?
Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about my strategy, show you what I bought last week and tell you about what I’m thinking about buying this week (or next), and why.
Before I forget: The winners of Amy Holton’s earrings and my book have not claimed their gifts .