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Thread: Do strict "sales" rules drive customers away ?

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    Post Do strict "sales" rules drive customers away ?



    Belgium and France have notoriously restrictive sales regulations (see this article from The Economist), with an official starting and ending day, limitations on pre-sales, maximum discounts, limited shopping hours, and officials making sure that all this is strictly applied. Some other continental European countries have similar rules.

    The pity is that governments have forgotten about the Internet and globalisation. Personally I care less and less about sales in the place where I am staying. It is easier in general to purchase some products (about anything but clothes) on the Internet. Amazon.com (as opposed to European versions of the site) sells just about anything now. I haven't bought books or DVD's in a "brick-and-mortar" shop for ages (actually I think I have never bought a DVD in a shop).

    The same goes for most electronics and home appliances. Why bother and waste your time go to a shop, try to park your car, wait your turn, queue at the cashier, etc. when you can buy the same thing online, usually for cheaper ? So except of it is an emergency and one cannot wait a few days for the delivery, there is little reason not to shop online.

    So why do people still care about the sales season ? For clothes, mostly. Accessories, neckties, sports equipment, cosmetics and anything else than is size-free can also be bought online, usually for much cheaper, all year round.

    The choice on the Internet also defeats the best shopping centers in the world. Amazon.com has millions of garments and accessories listed, and browsing for what you want is so much easier and faster than going from boutique to boutique, especially during the overcrowded sales. Anybody who doesn't live in central Paris or London has absolutely no interest in shopping outside rather than online.

    For some people (especially women), shopping is also a way to kill time, go out and meet people. In that case, the most attractive option is indeed to do the sales in a big city. But again, the Belgian government managed to drive its richest customers away with its too strict pre-sales rules.

    It was reported in the news that tens of thousands of well-to-do Belgians went to New York for their shopping during the year-end holidays (before the official sales Belgium), mostly because the dollar was so low, so their plane ticket would be paid off after a few purchases only.

    If they managed to find articles sold at a 50% discount, they would get a further 50% off from the change rate, ending up paying about 25% of the normal price. Buy a nice coat for 1000 euro and you save 750 euro, twice more than a return flight Brussels-New York. Buy a few suits, shoes, a wallet, etc. and it becomes obvious why shopping in New York can be much more advantageous than shopping in Brussels.

    Even if you don't have time to fly to New York, you can still try some clothes in a local shop (as long as you don't live in the remote countryside), find your fitting size, write it down, then order those products online for half the price. As sales aren't really limited in time online, you can do that almost all year round - keeping in mind that websites with prices in a low currency (US dollar, yen...) act as a permanent overall discount.

    So, however way you look at it, if you are going to spend a lot of money in your shopping, there is little incentive to do it in Belgium or France (well, Paris is a bit of an exception because of its exceptional range of fashion products and services).

    I am not trying to incite Europeans to shop outside Europe. What I wish to see is more flexibility and more liberalism in shopping regulations in Europe. Otherwise, if everybody thought like me, most European retailers would close their doors within a few years.
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    The Internet is not a real threat. First, people prefer going to shops to purchasing some products on the Internet, especially for trying clothes or having a contact with your purchase. Moreover receiving at home will become all the more expensive as the ecologist taxes on transports will increase.
    As to whether the burden of the restrictive sales regulation could lead the European retailers to downsize their shops, I don't think so. The president of Paris tourism office recently said that London is being inspired by the Paris’ model because the unlimited sales in London have devitalized the global shopping.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robespierre7 View Post
    The Internet is not a real threat. First, people prefer going to shops to purchasing some products on the Internet, especially for trying clothes or having a contact with your purchase.
    Personally I don't need to have "contact" with my purchase to buy electronics, DVD's, books, and many other things. If I need to see the real stuff before, I check it in a shop, then order it online as it is often much cheaper.
    Moreover receiving at home will become all the more expensive as the ecologist taxes on transports will increase.
    Online products are usually cheap enough for delivery costs to become trivial. Many websites also have free delivery (at least from a certain amount).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Personally I don't need to have "contact" with my purchase to buy electronics, DVD's, books, and many other things. If I need to see the real stuff before, I check it in a shop, then order it online as it is often much cheaper.
    Online products are usually cheap enough for delivery costs to become trivial. Many websites also have free delivery (at least from a certain amount).
    Maciamo, long time no talk...I think...if everybody thinks like you, there will be no shops for people to touch the real thing, the only way to consume is through the internet, then how are people suppose to touch the products they are thinking of buying before they buy?

    And if their is a problem with the products you can go straight away to the shop and get it sort out but with the internet you need to wait.

    Going out to stores with friends and family is a part of my leisure, I wouldnft want to spend that much time online, going out for walks are healthy, and I enjoy the company of others at times. Sitting too long in front of a computer is not tip-top for health.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Minty View Post
    Maciamo, long time no talk...I think...if everybody thinks like you, there will be no shops for people to touch the real thing, the only way to consume is through the internet, then how are people suppose to touch the products they are thinking of buying before they buy?
    I know, but not everybody will think like me - that is for sure. There is still a sizeable part of the population that is not connected to the Internet or rarely use it. Ironically, it is often the poorer (or less educated) part of the population, and they are also the ones paying the hard prices in shops.

    And if their is a problem with the products you can go straight away to the shop and get it sort out but with the internet you need to wait.
    You can't get many problems with clothes. But for electronics, for instance, it is true that one should beware of some online websites with no branches closeby to where you live. It has happened to me once and I had to wait for weeks for my product to be repaired. Now I only buy in electronics chains that have both a good website and a good customer services at local branches. But I still prefer to order online for the facility, and only go to the branches in case of extreme necessity.

    The argument that shop staff can help you choose your product has proven ludicrious to me, especially for electronics. Most often the staff is not qualified enough to give you a proper answer to almost any technical question. The only thing they can do (well, most of the time) is point you to the right direction when you are looking for something. So I prefer to rely on tests by specialised magazines or websites, make my choice, then order online wherever it is cheaper and with a guarantee of good customer service.

    Belgians love comparative tests. There is one famous magazine that tests just about everything, even the quality of customer services in shops or that of online shopping websites.

    Going out to stores with friends and family is a part of my leisure, I wouldnft want to spend that much time online, going out for walks are healthy, and I enjoy the company of others at times. Sitting too long in front of a computer is not tip-top for health.
    Agreed. But it is a well known fact that shopping (especially for clothes !) is a torture to most men. That's why very few men would envisage shopping as an agreable outing option with friends. Only women do that. I prefer meeting friends at a relaxed place like a restaurant or at home, but not in crowded shops with all the amount of stress associated to it.

    Then shopping is also an inside activity, in crowded CO2 filled places and polluted city centres. That doesn't seem more healthy than staying at home. If you are looking for healthy, I'd rather go for a walk in the countryside or in a big park.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I know, but not everybody will think like me - that is for sure. There is still a sizeable part of the population that is not connected to the Internet or rarely use it. Ironically, it is often the poorer (or less educated) part of the population, and they are also the ones paying the hard prices in shops.
    Well, glad you understand there is room for individual differences! And because of these differences, you get to touch the items you want to buy before you buy them! Except you prefer to buy them online others prefer to go to the stores.

    You can't get many problems with clothes.
    I donft agree with this, you can get many problems with clothes, with clothes you need to try; sometimes it looks good on the picture but it doesnft suit you when you put it on, and sometimes the colour you see on the web isnft exactly the same as the real thing.

    I have ordered items from the internet and after I tried them I didnft like them after all, so I returned them within a week as itfs the regulation and I had to wait for the return of my money.

    In contrast, in the shops if you try something you donft like you put it back and you go try something else and only buy what you like.

    You know last time I went to buy clothes before Xmas with my husband, once we were there my husband went and chatted with the sales ladies, all of a sudden I received 50 percent discount on all items not under promotions, and 70 percent discount on items on promotion, this was before they went on sales.

    Some people enjoy talking to others and when people like you they treat you better than others! Some people like to socialise with people face to face.

    It really is a personal preference!

    But for electronics, for instance, it is true that one should beware of some online websites with no branches closeby to where you live. It has happened to me once and I had to wait for weeks for my product to be repaired. Now I only buy in electronics chains that have both a good website and a good customer services at local branches. But I still prefer to order online for the facility, and only go to the branches in case of extreme necessity.
    The argument that shop staff can help you choose your product has proven ludicrious to me, especially for electronics. Most often the staff is not qualified enough to give you a proper answer to almost any technical question. The only thing they can do (well, most of the time) is point you to the right direction when you are looking for something. So I prefer to rely on tests by specialised magazines or websites, make my choice, then order online wherever it is cheaper and with a guarantee of good customer service.
    Belgians love comparative tests. There is one famous magazine that tests just about everything, even the quality of customer services in shops or that of online shopping websites.
    That is not what I mean, I mean if you have a problem with the products you purchase you can go over there and complain about it, most electronic products have some sort of warranty and when it is within the time that a problem occurs you go to the store and you receive a new one, the only time you need to wait is if it is out of stock.

    When my husband bought us a Sony blue Ray DVD player few months ago there was a problem with the machine, when he took it back as there was no more the old model and that Sony had (and still has) an obligation to replace their client a new machine if it had a problem, they gave us the new model without charging us extra!

    Agreed. But it is a well known fact that shopping (especially for clothes !) is a torture to most men. That's why very few men would envisage shopping as an agreable outing option with friends. Only women do that. I prefer meeting friends at a relaxed place like a restaurant or at home, but not in crowded shops with all the amount of stress associated to it.
    Then shopping is also an inside activity, in crowded CO2 filled places and polluted city centres. That doesn't seem more healthy than staying at home. If you are looking for healthy, I'd rather go for a walk in the countryside or in a big park.
    I agree that most men hate shopping...but I am a woman, but I do know some men who actually like shopping though...

    Staying at home too long isnft healthy, especially if you spend too much time online, and talk too much with people online, it is like you live in there and don't have anywhere else to go or something...and getting too serious with disscussions online and getting very upset over it.

    There are people who prefer to go out with their friends that they can see and feel. I also find people you can see and feel are a lot more polite than people online!

    There is no doubt pollutions in town, that's true but when you go out you move which is a form of exercise, if you stay at home and sit in front of the computer too much you donft move much do you? These days there are too many couch potatoes who are addicted to the internet and the television.

    I think Strasbourg isn't much polluted I have been to some cities where it is really heavily polluted that it is better to take the car then to ride a bike, Kao Shiung (Taiwan) is a good example.

    Yes, outdoor activities like going hiking in the mountains, breathing fresh air are definitely healthier than going to town, that I agree I do a lot of exercises at home, because I got the machine at home ( but not many people do exercises while they watch TV do they?) and I do go to mountain areas with my husband to have a walk from time to time.

    However, I also like to go to town to shops and see the pretty decorations, to have my one cup of cappuccino with my friends in a day and just having fun socializing and doing things with people you can see and feel.
    Last edited by Minty; 11-01-08 at 23:10.

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