End-of-season sales not key for Paris retailers, year-round discounts blunt their impact

Seasonal clearance sales in Paris will end on 20 February, but 56% of local retailers regard them as far less interesting than other event sales or promotions, according to a survey by the CROCIS research office for the Paris and Île-de-France Chamber of Commerce (CCI). The survey also found that, for 67% of Paris retailers, seasonal sales are no longer "an event,” while 65% of them stated they were unhappy about the current promotional period.

Winter sales brought a revenue rise of up to 10% over a normal month for 23% of Paris retailers - CCI Paris IDF

For 24% of interviewees, the clearance period has brought no increase in revenue, and 59% of the panel experienced a downturn compared to the 2016 winter sales. This comes on top of an autumn/winter season regarded as disappointing by 55% of retailers, with only half satisfied about Christmas sales.

Unsurprisingly, the lack of interest in this winter’s end-of-season sales was attributed to lower footfall due to the economy's woes (according to 70% of the panel) and to the wet weather. And 73% of interviewees noted competition from the internet. However, fingers were mostly pointed at too-frequent promotions. "Retailers lamented the disastrous effects of this promotional overkill on consumers," reported CCI, also indicating that 65% of retailers admitted they resorted to price cuts during the season, a figure that was up by six points. "We are responsible for our own misery," said a retailer cited by the survey.

For 59% of Paris retailers, the 2017 winter sales results were below 2016 (bottom-left pie chart) - CCI Paris IDF

Nevertheless, Parisian retailers seem bent on persevering with discounts at other times of the year. Compared to 38% in November 2016, 59% of them took part in the Black Friday promotional spree in November 2017. And 69% of them said they were happy with the results. But 35% of the panel also said Black Friday only generated a 10% rise in sales.

Indeed, CCI is pushing for new national regulations on end-of-season sales, including Black Friday. For 55% of Parisian retailers, the sales period is too long, and 67% of them are generally unhappy with the dates. In fact, 86% of interviewees said they were in favour of the sales period’s reduction to four weeks suggested by French Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire. But while they wait for new measures, 72% of the panel said they are optimistic about the next season.

Translated by Nicola Mira

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