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Paris (AFP) – The summer sales kicked off for four weeks on Wednesday against a backdrop of runaway inflation, but early customers are determined to grab bargains without “buying anything”, and traders to bail out their cash.
Rue Sainte-Catherine, the main shopping street in Bordeaux, began to fill up at the end of the morning. “All the signals are green. This is the first year after two years of Covid where we can do the sales in a serene way, without a mask” or gauges, welcomes Anne Pédélaborde, vice-president of “Bordeaux Mon Commerce “, the local association of merchants and craftsmen.
Some channels are already offering discounts of up to -70%. And if private sales were offered last week, some customers, like Loane, 21, waited for the sales to kick off to buy at an even lower price.
The philosophy student in Paris arrived in the shopping mall at Saint-Lazare station at 9 a.m. to buy underwear. “Last week, during the private sales at -40%, I had spotted what I liked, but I wanted to wait for the -50% mark to invest”.
The decline in the purchasing power of the French push some to buy only essential items. In a men’s clothing store in Paris, Karim, 18, will buy “only shirts” for his summer job in catering.
A stone’s throw from the Grand Place in Lille, Wafa was the first to enter the store of a large ready-to-wear chain: “A lot of things are going up. I’m preparing for the holidays, so I have no choice, I have to do the sales,” she explains.
Hanane, a civil servant, wanted to take the opportunity “to spend some time with (her) 13-year-old daughter”. A ritual, at each sales period. But this year, “we are not buying just anything”. They will therefore not go to perfumeries: “We have what it takes at home”.
The Forum des Halles shopping center, in the heart of Paris, was not stormed on Wednesday morning, AFP noted.
A few minutes’ walk away, the “Freep’star” thrift store has seen customers pass by, although the brand does not offer sales: second-hand is on the rise.
Among them, Paul, a 26-year-old doctoral student in history. For him, “the sales have no meaning. They encourage overconsumption”, contrary to his ecological convictions. He will finally have found a second-hand shirt and jeans. “At 5 euros, it doesn’t exist on sale,” he smiles.
Crossed in the streets of Lille, Amélie Tardivat, 25, educational engineer, will not do the sales either. “I try to turn to more sustainable consumption,” she says.
Traders, however, hope to bail out their cash, while in-store sales are still down “-7%” cumulatively since the start of 2022 compared to 2019, according to the Trade Alliance.
Inflation has also affected businesses, with rising production and transport costs. “The (summer) sales start too early to be able to give us some time to make room”, regrets Colas Michard, general manager of the independent shoemaker Michard Ardillier in Bordeaux. And he is already worried about the winter period: “Our suppliers have increased prices by 5 to 15%”.
Patricia Fouthoux, manager of the Mixtape store in Bordeaux, wants to be reassuring. For her, the sales period “will make it possible to catch up with the month of June by selling the stock from previous summers which could not be sold with the Covid”. But she notes the end of an era, while promotions flourish all year round: “It’s over the sales on D-Day, the people waiting outside the door”.
© 2022 AFP