Monday, January 4, 2010

Sales Season: The New Headline

Buon 2010!

The new year started with a bang, lots of rain/snow and now we are in the midst of the official sales season. For many cities, the official opening was the second day of the new year.

How can it be that every TV channel, radio station and newspaper make headline news of the sales season? I heard a report yesterday that there were lines lasting one hour to enter the outlets that have sprouted off of the highways around the country. Lines also have formed outside of the classic stores in the big cities like Rome and Milan. The news tells us how each family will spend about Euro 300/person on various clothing and sundries.

I thought Americans were crazy about sales, but the Italians may have beaten us at that game or are keeping in toe.

Many Italians are even flying to cities like New York just to take advantage of the great exchange rate (about $1.50= Euro 1) and go on a shopping extravaganza. Forget culture. Travel is for shopping!

What upsets me about many stores and their sales season is that they provide different merchandise when the signs advertise "30% off". I was once sold linens of an inferior quality that had been sent to the store only to be sold during the sales season. That wasn't a sale. That was just selling cheaper merchandise. I found out about this practice after the fact because I hadn't previously compared the before and after sale quality of the product.

Or there is the other trick: raise the original price 30% so your "sale" ticket seems like a good deal after the advertised discount. That ploy was discovered by the friendly journalists at Il Mattino di Padova last year regarding shoes in some upscale shops in the city center. How many other shops do the same, I wonder?

What I did find interesting this year was the introduction of 20% of certain items the week before the sales season, from Christmas to New Year's.

If you can wait and don't really need to buy anything at the moment, I suggest holding out until the sales discount becomes 50% in February. However you may not find the size or color you want.

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