The cross : Ecological and social concerns in the face of overconsumption, multiplication of promotional offers the rest of the year… The sales, which start on Wednesday June 28 for four weeks, aren’t theys not become obsolete?
Francis Palombi: I do not think so. They must not be deleted, it is a historical period which must continue to exist. But we cannot keep the same model as twenty years ago.
Originally, this period allowed traders to sell the last products of a season that was ending. The consumer was sure to find the best prices of the year. These two aspects no longer really exist today. Major brands and online platforms now offer dozens of seasons a year and make promotional offers commonplace through special days such as Black Friday, private sales, etc.
Is this period still beneficial to independent traders?
F. B. : More really. A small merchant sells at a loss when he makes reductions of more than 40%, while a large retailer can afford to make reductions of 60 or even 70% before selling at a loss. More broadly, online sales platforms drain customers, often by deceiving them. They trick consumers into thinking they are getting a deal when they are not.
F. B. : UFC-Que Choisir has carried out a study on these supposed sales offered by online sales sites. The results show that several of them do not clearly and accurately define the pre-promotion reference price, worse, they sometimes inflate them.
The European Omnibus Directive – adopted in 2019 and transposed into French law since May 28, 2022 – provides better protection for consumers against misleading and unfair practices. The reference price must be the last price charged one month before the start of the sales or promotions. Now, this law must be respected!
What do you recommend to make these sales periods favorable to them again?
F.B. : What is certain is that we must change the method and give meaning to the sales, that this period is a time of real promotions. But I don’t want to be a sweet dreamer, we’ve been asking for years, in vain, for an advancement of the sales period to mid-February and mid-August. Small businesses would thus ensure a profit margin for a longer period of time.
On reflection, perhaps we should liberalize sales, give traders greater leeway. They know better when is the most favorable time according to their needs and their stocks. It is heresy for the state to choose the dates of these periods. In Germany, for example, there are no imposed dates, businesses can sell individually or organize themselves at city level. Finally, we could also set up four sales periods of two weeks each.
What do you say to consumers who tend to turn more to large brands and e-commerce platforms which often offer more attractive prices?
F. B. : I tell them to be careful, we often try to deceive you by dangling false deals. In a small business, the prices are sometimes higher but these are beautiful, quality products. The small shoe or costume trader puts his products on sale to sell his stock. These are real sales. And by buying from them, you’re supporting independent, downtown, real commerce.
How do you see these summer 2023 sales, in the current economic context?
F. B. : With inflation, I think the consumer will be more attentive to it. The context will surely push customers to seek the largest markdowns as a priority. It is therefore inadmissible for the consumer to be deceived!
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