What if inflation puts sales back in fashion?

What if inflation puts sales back in fashion?

“Yup”. For years, this has been everything that has inspired us sales, which have become almost as exciting as plain yogurt as promotions have become more common. So much so that it was no longer an unmissable event but a monotonous habit almost abandoned, knowing that the most beautiful clothes would either be plundered at the entrance or out of promotion. So ok, there’s this Celio t-shirt in a single color for 12 euros instead of 20, and a bargain is still a bargain, but nothing to shy away from or count the days. The weight of sales on apparel turnover decreased by 7% between 2014 and 2018, according to data from the French Fashion Institute (IFM). In parallel, that of promotions increased by 5%, to reach 27% of sales.

But that was before. Before the runaway inflation of 2022 – + 5.2% in May compared to May 2021, a record for thirty-seven years – which dug holes in French wallets, reduced their purchasing power and changed habits. To the point of re-sales as expected like a World Cup final? “Sales are once again a cross in my calendar, confirms Justine, a 32-year-old nurse. With prices rising, we can no longer miss such an event. It is out of the question to buy an item that is not in promotion ”. According to a Diffusis France poll held between 9 and 14 June, 83% of French people plan to take advantage of it this year. Among them, 51% will increase their budget compared to last year.

Frivolous purchase and innocent pleasure

Dominique Desjeux, anthropologist of consumption, confirms a possible renewed interest: “The French are much more looking for bargains or low prices than a year or two ago. Far from the Covid-19 that has overwhelmed us in recent years, the concern has become: prices, prices, prices. It is normal for the balances to earn interest “. Especially since they allow you to have fun in this period of lean cows in terms of frivolous purchases: «Inflation affects essential sectors: gasoline, energy and food. The French cannot compromise on these expenses, and therefore will limit themselves even more to unnecessary purchases, notes Yves Marin, consumer expert at Wavestone. The sales therefore allow you to breathe into these healthy and tight budgets, with the idea of ​​having fun doing good deals, to get rid of guilt “.

But sales – a fortiori this year – aren’t just fun purchases or bonuses. According to the same survey, 35% of French people will focus on essential and necessary purchases. This is particularly the case with Léo, a 37-year-old father, determined to maximize: “I’m going to buy clothes for all my children for the start of the school year. This is the right opportunity, the longer we wait, the more it costs ”. And this is perhaps the great strength of the 2022 summer sales: of course, there are promotions all year round, but the more the months pass, the more inflation drives up prices. The June sales are therefore interesting “also for the products scheduled for September or this winter. For example, it is now more profitable to buy sweaters, “notes Yves Marin.

Sales, “great sinking boat”

So, tsunami in sight on the shelves? Not really, because the root causes of the disaffection remain: “Now there are private sales before sales, promotions all year round and above all the sites at bargain prices, like Vinted or Shein”, suggests Dominique Desjeux. According to a survey by the independent trade union and the VSEs, 60% of professionals do not feel particular expectations from their customers regarding sales, which have become a promotional period among many. Furthermore, only 36% estimate that the period that opens will allow them to sell most of their shares.

At the Jules de Saint-Lazare in Paris, where we just went for a walk, no special preparation for Wednesday. “There will probably be a few more people this weekend than the previous ones, but don’t dream: the crowd movements and the hysteria in the shops are no longer of this world”, smiles a salesman. A change, however, with inflation: “we expect cheaper products to go faster, where previously sales allowed us to spend on large purchases,” he observes. Everyone has their own metaphor. For Yves Marin it is «a great boat that sinks flat: for the moment it remains afloat (sales still represent 20% of the total expenditure of the French in fashion), but it takes a lot of water. “.

Internet, anywhere, anytime

Less indulgence on the part of Elisabeth Tissier-Desbordes, professor of economics at ESCP and specialist in consumer behavior, for whom sales are “in an advanced state of decrepitude, overwhelmed by private sales. When we want brands in promotion, we get them before the sales. If inflation can allow for a slight rebound, she says, it won’t be spectacular. “There will always be people who like to go out to shops, touch objects, look for the right offer. But they are becoming more and more a minority “, says the specialist. A” was-better-before “confirmed by Léo:” For children, nothing replaces live testing and validation of the product in hand “.

And the various confinements only made things worse: “With the health crisis, Internet sales have become more democratic. However, on the Web we find promotions all the time “, says Dominique Desjeux. In June, then. But also in July. In August. In September. In October …

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