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Last day of winter sales, marked by a further decline in sales

Sales seem to be going out of fashion.

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Last day of winter sales, marked by a further decline in sales

Sales seem to be going out of fashion. The winter months end with a bitter assessment in a delicate period for mid-range ready-to-wear, strangled between a decline in purchasing power and competition from discount players, suffering from a series of bankruptcies. Having lost momentum for several years in a context where promotional offers are commonplace, sales are no longer attractive and professionals are calling for an overhaul of the system.

Under the avalanche of figures for the 2024 edition, the same observation: the winter sales, launched on January 10 in the majority of French departments and which end on Tuesday, were much less successful than in 2023. The Retail panel Int. for the Commerce Alliance, which includes around sixty major brands (Jules, Monoprix, Levi's, Promod, etc.), reports a drop in turnover of 6% compared to the previous year, on the first three weeks of the sales.

Independent brands members of the National Clothing Federation (FNH) report a 6% drop in turnover over the first two weeks. And the Union of Independents and Small Businesses (SDI) reports a reduction of between 15 and 30% in turnover during its mid-term balance sheet of the sales.

If the results are "very mixed, variable depending on the brand (...), the season will remain bad", predicted Yann Rivoallan, president of the French Women's Ready-to-Wear Federation, at the end of January in an interview with AFP .

This trend affects all segments, women's, men's and children's fashion, Pierre Talamon, president of the FNH, points out to AFP. However, mid-range ready-to-wear would have done without this bad news, having been shaken by a violent crisis for more than a year. Camaïeu, Kookaï, Naf Naf, Gap France, Burton of London, San Marina, Minelli, Don't Call me Jennyfer, Pimkie... These brands well known to the French are downsizing, are placed in receivership or even sometimes liquidated.

“Since 2018, sales have been declining, (retailers) are losing 1 to 2% of turnover each year,” noted Pierre Talamon. The sales have “lost their meaning” and have become “out of fashion”, drowned in permanent promotions, according to the professional who is asking the government to regulate these discounts at all costs.

This “increasing disinterest over the years” is indeed the consequence of “promotions which have intensified” – notably with the arrival from across the Atlantic of Black Friday – but not only that, declared Gildas Minvielle to AFP , director of the economic observatory of the French Fashion Institute (IFM).

The mid-range, which benefited from the sales, is much less attractive, competing with discount players at discounted prices all year round and second hand, a growing market. “It is now becoming difficult to find legitimate an uncrossed price,” according to Gildas Minvielle for whom the “tracks are blurred in terms of price benchmarks.”

Many professionals in the sector also cite a calendar problem, with sales being too late in the year. Traders barely have “time to sell (seasonal) clothes” before they already have to “sell them off,” Jean-Guilhem Darré, general delegate of the SDI, explained to AFP. The organization is asking the government, along with the FNH, to postpone the sales dates, while the Commerce Alliance advocates the status quo on the issue.

And, “this year, there is clearly a purchasing power problem” in an inflationary context, recalled Jean-Guilhem Darré. The latter has also underlined for several years the importance of cyclical factors in the poor performance of sales: the yellow vests in 2019 then the Covid pandemic disrupting summer sales in 2020 and winter sales in 2021 or even, in this early 2024, the farmers' protest movement blocking road traffic.

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