12 Replies

why, in France, is it up to the Prefect to decide when shops can have their sales? surely that's a straightforward commercial decision for the shopkeeper to make and none of the govt's business? seriously confused - and I really would like an answer if you've got one. I'm not just whingeing  :)

Featured Classified


Les Palmiers-381714 1057144986

Good question,

I have often wondered as well, though I prefer to see things more regulated than in the UK where everything is "on offer" and you really have to do your research to check you are getting something cut price . . . . . at least here you are fairly sure . . .

I think there are still offers that shops can do without using the word "soldes"

I am also intrigued to know why you ask??



dancer-381717 1057150518

I'm just interested as to why the French have legislation for something that doesn't seem to need legislation. I can't see as how it can be of benefit to businesses and not really either to consumers so is it just a case of the govt. interfering or is there actually some logic to the whole business that escapes me?

It seems daft that the sales start in july if you're in Morbihan but in june in other places. Surely the Prefect has more pressing matters to deal with than worrying what day the sales are going to start?

Vonny-381712 1057174282

The reglementation for sales is indeed a governmental issue brought in to ensure fair trading for all commerces. To allow shops to have a fair distribution of customers and therefore iopportunity to earn a living, the sales are now very strictly carried out just twice a year (with huge fines for offenders- another bit of revenue for the government) but bascially to protect the commerçant. If everybody was allowed to do as he liked and have sales all over the place (closing down sales included) those who weren't able to do so for economic reasons would suffer, lose money and close down. And as everybody knows, the idea is to make money in order to pay the high social charges so that we all benefit from an excellent Social Security! It was also brought in to protect against falling standards of products imported from other countries. Imagine if everyone had sales all the time - it's evident that the quality would suffer and then we would all complain! As to why each department tends to differ, I think it's to do with the same reasons that school holidays are 'decalé', it eases the situation on the roads perhaps! But as Les pointed out, there are also other little 'offers', which do find their way into various shops at other times, but again, all is regulated.


dancer-381717 1057219817

OK so it is just the govt. interfering.

dancer-381717 1057219972

Sorry forgot to add - because as economics that is just utter tosh.

Les Palmiers-381714 1057223564


I can understand where you are coming from, but , i have to disagree a little bit.

Yes - it is the Government interfering BUT - perhaps for the right reasons.

In Manchester, and Birmingham for that matter, which is the limit of my more recent experience - the shops situation is dire.

Why do i say this? - Because, the only shops who seem to be staying around are the out of town superstores, big groups or the "open all hours" corner shop.

The reason? - Large groups are the only ones who manage to keep a margin in what they sell by keeping the purchase price down, and corner shops, cos they are the only place to buy a bottle of milk on Christmas day - late night etc - at double the supermarket price - hence they make a margin.

The sheer quantity of "fly by night" and "broken dreams" shops who come and go, pay no tax, no rent, defraud suppliers and leave customers with unguaranteed and faulty goods is enormous. Everywhere you look someone is having a Sale or "everything must go" closing down sale - This must make it very hard to run a legitimate business, pay all the bills and taxes and employ staff at proper rates of pay. In addition - shop landlords leave properties in disrepair as they scratch around for someone who will pay the rent (I suppose there are always the corner shop - "had an accident? No win-no fee" , make up a trip on the pavement and we will get you a couple of thou - solicitors !!)

I used to work for a major Group who hired private detectives to buy stuff at the inflated "pre-sales price" so they could prove it had previously been sold at that price !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The majority of Towns and Cities in Brittany and France have busy shopping centres with a good range of goods on sale, are well presented and in good repair - you can normally have confidence in what they sell. And the buying experience is a pleasant afternoon out. 

Not as good for the consumer ? Well - depends what you want to buy, personally I prefer to buy one quality item at a fair price than ten "bargains" that i didnt really need or that break.

Final word (and i know I go on a bit (sorry Admin !):-) If you want a bargain, search out the shops that have them, and they do exist, Max Plus for example or Noz - I have had some some real bargains from both.

If all else fails, grab a cheap flight to Stanstead, onward to Florida, hand baggage only, two weeks package tour (January is nice) , shop till you drop and come back with suitcases full (but remember to remove all labels and leave a few smelly worn items in your suitcase !! Bonjour Les Douanes) I try to do this once every couple of years for clothes and shoes !

Just my point of view, you understand . . . . . . What is your view on the Economics?




Vonny-381712 1057226341


Les - my thoughts entirely

dancer - just interested to hear what you mean by tosh. I would have thought as an economic measure it was the complete opposite. Far better to have a satisfied public who buy perhaps more expensive own country produce surely and commerçants who keep their head above water (thanks to the tough regulations) and don't depend on the state to get them out of their debt?   But I am no expert, so I'd love to hear what you think (sincerely).

dancer-381717 1057233359

Short version: interfering with markets drives prices up but not quality. Central argument for a free market economy, a model which is not perfect but is far less imperfect than anything else.

"those who weren't able to do so for economic reasons would suffer, lose money and close down" is just  another way of saying "let's keep badly run uneconomic businesses afloat" which is to the detriment of the consumer (higher prices) and also those businesses that are properly-run (unfair competition).

Les Palmiers-381714 1057271455


"let's keep badly run uneconomic businesses afloat"   No , I dont agree with that either, but you are making an assumption, that in a "free market economy" everyone is playing on a level field - sorry, but not so.

In the example of the UK, as the pressure is on sales for the wholesalers and suppliers, they take calculated risks. They give accounts to just about anyone, including Limited liabiliy companies with £2 share capital. These companies then trade for , lets say, a year with this supplier on a £2000 credit limit , in doing so, building up a level of trust and credit worthy-ness.

Said shop then offers the salesperson a "carrot". They are about to have a sales drive, and this suppliers products are to form the key lines. BUT, they need a bigger credit limit, to carry more stock, and longer payment terms, to allow the promotion to take place . . . . .

What the supplier doesnt know, is that they are the tenth (or twentieth etc) supplier contacted in this manner . . . . . . .need i say more?

The "Sale" is a flop, the LTD company starts trading at a loss - the Directors (who draw "reasonable" salaries right to the end) are legally obliged to cease trading and put matters in the hands of "insolvency experts" (whos fee is always paid first!)  All figures are presented in the books - hence everything is perfectly legal . All stock is sold at a loss, very quickly, again totally legally (often to another £2 ltd company - and guess who the Directors are?!)  A shop opens on the High street selling under-priced goods - great, the consumer wins . . . . . . . except the guarantee turns out to be invalid because the goods were not sold with "Good Title" etc. . . . . . . is this fair?

The shop down the road selling equivalent goods sells nothing, because they have paid the going rate for theirs and are unable to match the price. . . . . . . is this fair? 

To counteract this, big groups sell "loss leaders" to attract customers into their shops, at the same time selling other products at twice the price of smaller shops, (who often put the same margin on all products) hence "hoodwinking" the consumer . . . . . .  .is this fair?

Nope, sorry, you make the assumption that "Free Market Economy" = "Fair Economy" Not So. . . . . Without control, there are always those that exploit the system . . . . .

Given the choice, I prefer two "sales" a year ! :-)

I enjoy the debate though should you disagree !!!

Best regards,


p.s. Communism is another example of an excellent theory, which doesn't work in practice . . . . . . . .

dancer-381717 1057775760

that's not a free market, it's a free-for-all. what you're describing is basic fraud and should be prevented by the application of existing business legislation (or the expansion of existing corporate governance laws). it's a straightforward abuse of the "limited liability" bit of joint-stock companies.

graham1-381847 1058700862

If you are new to France it is perhaps worth understanding a very different history and culture from our own.  From Louis XIV to Napoleon to de Gaulle France has been governed upon the basis of strong central control and a planned economy.  It is therefore part of the heritage that the government sticks its nose into areas of activity which in freer less organised countries like the UK are beyond the scope of the authorities.

As far as I can remember, there are consumer protection laws in the UK requiring goods to have been on sale for a certain time at a regular price before they can be offered at a marked down price.  By concentrating this activity into a limited period of time, I suppose the authorities believe that they can protect the consumer more efficiently be controlling more in a limited period of time.   There is something in the argument.

At the practical level, you can negotiate all year round regardless of when the sales come, so that they are only really relevant for undemanding customers.

France has become incredibly more free market than she was in the last twenty years, this process will continue in the years to come.

Tink-381737 1058709063

W hy, in France, is it up to the Prefect to decide when shops can have their sales?

It's not just France, it's the same in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland.

Tink (22)

Join the discussion