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French national sales “les soldes” start Jan. 11, but are they losing energy?

January 10th, 2012 No comments

Think you had enough shopping done during the Christmas holiday?

The French are getting ready for the national sales around France.

They kick off tomorrow January 11 throughout the country, and you can see a full list of dates here for each département (Paris being the 75th on the list).

You’ll see many départements have sales until February 14, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Background
The French government authorizes stores to use the word “les soldes” as an official sales period twice a year (January and July) to foster economic growth and consumption.

Stores are free to have discounts, special offers and promotions throughout the rest of the year, but they cannot use “les soldes” as an expression outside of these two time periods.
Tomorrow Economic Minister François Baroin will be the MC of the traditional kick-off of the sales period at Galeries Lafayette.

Economic uncertainty?
Despite all the pomp and festivitives, a new poll done by l’Institut BVA and published by Les Echos newspaper reveals that 36% of French consumers think that the national sales do not have a real purpose any more, and this is even more pronounced among younger consumers.

While the sales might be less trendy than last year, and this drop in enthusiasm may be explained by economic uncertainty, 60% of the French still believe that these periods present special opportunities for good deals.

If you do choose to shop, make sure to remember that prices will generally decrease as the time period goes on (up to 80% off in some cases by the end), but that the best items will likely be gone.

You may also want to check out this page for more links and information on fashion and shopping.

Happy Shopping!

Newly rich Chinese investors buying French vineyards, gaining recognition

October 27th, 2011 No comments

With the growing economy of China making many citizens into upperclass consumers, they are increasingly consuming fine wines and enjoying other pleasures of the “high life”.

Some have even bought up French vineyards. In fact, according to this article on BBC News, “Chinese investors have bought six estates over the last three years.” But their activity is not limited to France, as China has been developing its own wine industry that is gaining recognition. It’s also well known that Hong Kong is a developed wine hub.

Excerpts from the article are below. Click on link above for full article.

For those of my readers with personal experience in winemaking and/or China, and how do you see this development?

Chinese buy their favourite Bordeaux by the vineyard
By David Chazan
BBC News, Bordeaux, France
26 October 2011

With its fairytale turrets and a 15th-Century tower, Chateau Latour Laguens is surrounded by vineyards in a region steeped in European tradition.

But this chateau, south-east of Bordeaux, is also at the cutting edge of Asia’s growing economic might.

The staff who tend the vineyards and make the wine are still French, but this is now a Chinese-owned domain.

It has been taken over by the Longhai group based in eastern China, which has created a subsidiary to run it called Chateau Latour-Laguens (Qingdao).

The Chinese are developing a new taste for French wines these days.

And in addition to buying them by the bottle or the case, the Chinese have also started buying the vineyards where their favourite Bordeaux vintages are produced.

Chateau Latour-Laguens was the first estate in Bordeaux to be bought by Chinese investors three years ago, but at least five others are now also Chinese-owned.

“We’re looking for the know-how, French technology and culture,” said Yilain Xu of Chateau Latour-Laguens (Qingdao).

“Bordeaux is a famous place to make high-quality wine and in China we have more and more people who drink wine, as lifestyles are changing.”

The new owners of Chateau Latour-Laguens have invested in the latest wine-making technology, and are renovating the chateau itself, which was somewhat run down before they took over.

But they have been careful to keep the French workers, and have hired an experienced French oenologist, or expert in the science of winemaking, to manage the operation and improve the quality of the wine…

Home gas prices up in France April 1, up 20% in past year

According to this article published in French magazine Le Point, the Commission de régulation de l’énergie (CRE), the French Energy Regulatory Commission, has approved a request for a price hike in natural gas used for home heating.

The energy company GDF Suez, in which the French government has a 35% stake, requested the increase, which will take effect April 1. The increases have been steady, and this last measure will make rates 20% higher than a year ago, and 60% since 2005.

Consumer organizations, notably association de consommateurs UFC Que Choisir, have voiced discontent with this measure, as the increases over the past year have meant an additional 200€ on average spent by families.

The article specifies that most of the natural gas that GDF Suez imports is based on 20-year supply contrats with countries such as Norway, Algeria and Russia. Pricing for gas prices takes into account the evolution of the euro-dollar exchange rate, the price of heating oil and crude oil and the price of natural gas listed in Amsterdam (or the APX-ENDEX).

Read more in the original article, “Les prix du gaz augmentent de 5,2% le 1er avril, de plus de 20% depuis un an.”

French national sales “les soldes” have started, until Feb. 15

January 13th, 2011 No comments

Yesterday, January 12, the semiannual “soldes”, or sales, started in France (the 2nd period is in June/July, will be sure to let you know the dates beforehand). You can see more on French shopping and fashion on my page here.

The dates this time around for most departments are from January 12 to February 15, although for some departments (highlighted here), the dates are slightly different.

You can see the official site in English here. About.com also has an interesting piece.

Bonjour Paris has a nice article on them :

“…in France, by law, sales (soldes) are held only twice a year, once in January and again in July. The government decides when the sales will be held and announces the official dates soon before the sales start. The stores then flutter around getting ready and shopaholics (myself included!) wait with bated breath for the opening day of the sales. Sale prices start at about 25-30% off for the first few days, and grow bigger as the sales go on. By the end of the sales (6 weeks maximum), the reductions can be up to 75% off, but the merchandise is slim.”

There is a French guide here as well. Excerpts from Stratégies Magazine:

«Soldes by Paris», une opération de charme pour attirer les touristes
La cinquième édition de «Soldes by Paris», qui propose plus de 300 offres inédites pour se loger, dîner, acheter et se cultiver, a débuté ce 12 janvier, en même temps que la période des soldes. L’opération, organisée par l’Office de tourisme de Paris avec le soutien de la chambre de commerce et d’industrie de la capitale, la mairie de Paris et Atout France, vise à renforcer l’attractivité de la capitale face à des concurrents comme Londres ou Dubaï en attirant les touristes du monde entier au cours d’un mois traditionnellement creux. Un site Internet a été mis en ligne et une application Iphone en quatre langues est disponible gratuitement.

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