Hier, j’ai fait les soldes. (eyair sjay feh lay sould) Yesterday, I hit the sales. For many years in France, big clearance-type sales have only been permitted semi-annually, at the end of June and in January, each time lasting for about a month. The idea was that this would protect small boutiques from aggressive pricing strategies of the big stores that can afford to sacrifice profit on one product to lure you in for more. This rule doesn’t apply to “promotions,” that seem to be going on all the time, so I wonder if the strategy has any real validity. That aside, les soldes are a huge deal. Many people will delay all possible purchases to that time, especially for electronics, which are relatively expensive in France. There are usually progressively bigger markdowns as the weeks pass, which leads to the dilemma of buying now or waiting for an even bigger markdown next week and possibly missing the big score altogether.
My destination yesterday was Les Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann, one of the oldest department stores in France. There are three separate stores under the Galeries Lafayette banner on this busy street – men’s wear, home goods, and the mother-ship. This building has a stained-glass cupola arching above the shopping floor. There are nine floors of mostly high-end shopping (the street level is 0, shoes are one level down, and there are seven floors above). The very top floor has a café and an astro-turfed expanse for resting tired feet or taking panoramic photos of the amazing views of Paris. If you spend at least 175€ in the same day in the same store, you are entitled to a tax refund upon leaving the country. With markdowns up to 60% yesterday and a further 12% tax refund, things start to get interesting. So interesting, in fact, that I’m planning to check out another couple of places today! (I can hear my husband starting to have a heart-attack across the Atlantic.)