Last month, while I was spending time in Paris, I noticed something special happening: Everything was going on sale. Every store I walked past had a sign in the window announcing exceptional soldes. But it was more than a pleasant coincidence; in case you didn't know, France's government regulates sales, allowing two six-week long markdowns a year, one beginning in June and the other in January.
This means that sales in Paris are major. By the end of the six week period, prices could be slashed by up to 80%, a discount that you rarely see in New York. While shopping I got two dresses at fractions of their original costs, a delight--especially considering the favorable exchange rate.
While there are obvious perks to the state-regulated sales system, there are a few let downs. Stores usually have sales in mid-summer and mid-winter anyway, to clear out old merchandise and make room for next season's goods. But since sales are not allowed anytime except the state-approved times, merchandise is at full price the other nine months of the year, making snagging that pair of perfect boots for half the price in October an impossibility. Which method do you think works better: biannual mega-sales, or smaller discounts all year round? Quite frankly, we wish there was a way to have both. Mayor Bloomberg, are you listening?