First Day of Sales: Little Traffic, but Traders Remain Hopeful

Beginning of the winter sales in Paris, January 20, 2021

With this period of the winter sales, businesses are not counting on a miracle but still hope to end this winter season smoothly, shaken by the health crisis.

Masks, a national curfew from 6 pm to 6 am … Will the public be there for the winter saleswhich started on Wednesday 20th January 2021, despite the constraints?

The traders are not counting on a miracle but still hope to end this winter season smoothly, shaken by the health crisis. As a reminder, the winter sales will be held  for four weeks, that is to say until Tuesday 16th February. 

Few people at the rendezvous

In Bordeaux in the middle of the morning, in the rue Saint-Catherine, the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe, it was not the euphoria of the great days. Despite the entrances now slowed down by the obligatory passage in front of the hydroalcoholic gel terminal, there was not the slightest line in front of mastodons such as Zara, H and M or the Galeries Lafayette.

“Usually, the first day of sales, it’s crowded here! In the morning we do huge numbers, but there aren’t even half the people we usually see ”, regrets Colas Michard, general manager of the Michard Ardillier shoe store, a well-established family business. on the street since 1878.

A similar finding in Lyon, where few people roamed the main shopping streets of the city’s hyper centre. Sara and Jean-Christophe Bouchard, 54 and 49, rejoice in the calm: “it’s not good for the stores, but for us, it’s super nice! ”

In the store of a Spanish ready-to-wear brand, a saleswoman admits that the attendance is “not at the rendezvous”: “Usually, on the first day of sales, with 50% reduction, there are long lines at the cash desks. There, hardly anyoneIt must be said that the changing rooms are closed and that the curfew at 6 pm does not help! ”

A “crucial” period

In a context where the circulation of the virus remains important in France, the closing of the doors imposed everywhere at 6 p.m. since Saturday is, however “a lesser evil”, according to Francis Palombi. For the president of the Confederation of traders of France (independent traders), the sales can even “be rather a rebound”.

“The greatest fear was to be confined” while the winter sales represent a “crucial period”, added Tuesday at a press conference Yohann Petiot, director-general of the Alliance du commerce. This promotion period notably ensured 13.5% of the 2019 sales of clothing brands.

But this year, traders are in the dark: “We expect everything and nothing, we don’t really know if there will be people or not”, admits Aurélie, 35, manager of a Caroll store. In Lyon.

“We are approaching the third confinement, people may not want to go out to the shop and then, at the budgetary level, it may also be stuck”, suggests Marie Sigogne, manager of a Geox shoe store in Bordeaux, which exceptionally opened earlier this Wednesday.

197 euros average budget

About 73% of French people plan to take advantage of the winter sales, against 80% last year, according to a Spartoo / Ifop survey carried out at the beginning of the month on a sample of 1,002 people representative of the French population. Positive point: they plan to spend on average 197 euros, a budget almost equivalent to that of last year.

The winter sales “are going to be an extremely important meeting to be able to land ” after the very trying year 2020 for traders, recently observed Céline Choain, a specialist in the fashion and distribution sector within the firm Kea & Partners.

The world of shops was disrupted by the health crisis last year. Certain segments suffered particularly, such as clothing. Retailers in this sector have lost nearly a quarter of their annual turnover (22.6%), according to a study by Retail Int. and the Trade Alliance.

Abandoned city centres

Faced with the health crisis and the restrictions to curb the epidemic, the habits of the French have also changed: they have favoured shopping areas located on the outskirts of urban areas, abandoning shops in town centres. A change that particularly penalized Paris.

Merchants are hoping to find some air with the winter sales, which start later this year and end on February 20th.

The government has postponed their date to allow businesses to sell a few more weeks without promotion, in order to replenish the treasuries weighed down by the reconfinement.

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