Thursday, January 15, 2009

Soldes out



According to mental health experts, January is the most depressing month of the year. In France this is because of les Soldes (the Sales) – at least, that’s my theory.

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the word solde was a slang word used by cloth merchants to designate off-cuts that were sold at – um – cut price. The word comes from the Italian, saldo and means ‘balance’ as in bank balance.

Well, thanks to the festivities, my bank balance has shrivelled like a burst balloon while my cheques are bouncier than ever. So what bright spark decided that this was the perfect time of year to induce shopping frenzy in the pecuniary challenged?

Simon Mannoury, that’s who. In 1830, he opened Paris’s first department store, Le Petit Saint-Thomas, in rue du Bac. He had plenty of great ideas: he was the first to mark prices on his goods, he invented mail-order and he even brought a donkey into the shop for the children to ride on. Fortunately, that idea was shelved pretty quickly.

Photo Eau de Paris

Monsieur Mannoury also introduced the concept of Soldes. In order to liquidate stock at the end of the season, he sold everything off at reduced prices. Of course, this was very popular but I do wonder if he had any notion of what he’d started…


In France, les Soldes are regulated by law and must begin and end on dates specified by the government: for example, the current sales period began on 7th January and will end on 10th February. Winter and summer Soldes last for five weeks each and shopkeepers are allowed to choose two other weeks during the year, as long as they are not too close to the main sales period.

But all that doesn’t really matter to me. By the time I’ve saved up enough money to go to the sales, all that’ll be left will be a couple of acrylic tank-tops in a colour that doesn’t go with anything, a few dozen tan panty-hose and a job-lot of mysterious kitchen utensils that I never knew I needed.

Although you never know. And they are very cheap…

21 comments:

Keith said...

The sales in Britland now seem to be a permanent all-year round thing thanks to the recession.

Sorry, it's politically correct now to say "credit crunch" instead.

Dumdad said...

Like you, I'm all spent out so the sales will pass me by - as usual.

sablonneuse said...

I've always thought it was a silly time to have sales, just after Christmas, but it seems some people have money left. Not me though!

The FrogBlogger said...

My solution is not to go into town, or to keep my eyes firmly directed in front of me away from the windows if my route takes me near anything other than food retailers or women's clothes shops.

It's never worked yet :-(

Roads said...

How interesting that the sales are regulated, almost like some kind of allowance amongst shopkeepers.

All the shops where I live are offering between 50% and 70% discounts. And then, because VAT has come down to 15%, you get another 2.5% off at the till.

That's all well and fine, but in the end it kind of makes you wonder -- how come all this stuff was 'worth' twice as much last year?

It's an interesting state of mind, that one. And it defines 'deflationary spiral' pretty tightly.

Anonymous said...

cest la vie

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Alex said...

Any idea why soldes are regulated by law?

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Amazed that the sales are regulated by French law. Mind you that does not surprise me. I worked for Credit Lyonnias in London for 3 years. Enough said!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Credit (or rather Debit)Lyonnais...will spell it correctly!....Mind you, the name has now changed I think.

Vista-SG said...

Hi there, nice blog in French.
I think the recession will remain unpredictable untill mid of this year. AS the Market still swung up and down. The good news is Obama would anounce a new strategy a few days later next week. Hope this will calm the market and give some positive buying.
Nice to know you, do a visit to my blog if you have time.
Thank you.
Vista-sg

Gigi said...

Keith - where's your blog gone?????

Gigi said...

Alex - I imagine it's to keep things fair...and also because the State likes to tell the French what to do and when to do it :-)

Gigi said...

Hadriana - I think it's known as LCL now. I try to avoid banks, though - they make me nervous :-(

Tinsie said...

The sales are regulated in Greece too. Personally I prefer the British model of year-round "offers" - I got some real bargains today although the sales ended ages ago :-)

As for January being the horriblest month of the year, there's scientific proof for this. Hehe.

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