What if inflation put sales back in fashion?

What if inflation put sales back in fashion?
Written by madishthestylebar

“Yeah”. For years, that’s all that the sales have inspired us with, which have become almost as exciting as plain yogurt as promotions become more commonplace. So much so that it was no longer an unmissable event but a dull habit almost abandoned, knowing that the most beautiful clothes would either be looted at the entrance or out of promotion. So ok, there’s this single color Celio t-shirt for 12 euros rather than 20, and a deal is still a deal, but nothing to shy away from or count the days. The weight of sales in clothing turnover fell by 7% between 2014 and 2018, according to data from the French Fashion Institute (IFM). At the same time, that of promotions increased by 5%, to reach 27% of sales.

But that was before. Before the galloping inflation of 2022 – + 5.2% in May compared to May 2021, a record for thirty-seven years – which dug holes in the wallets of the French, reduced their purchasing power and changed habits. To the point of making the sales again as expected as a World Cup final? “The sales have again become a cross on my calendar, confirms Justine, a 32-year-old nurse. With the rise in prices, we can no longer miss such an event. It is out of the question to buy an off-promotion item of clothing”. According to a Diffusis France poll carried out between June 9 and June 14, 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 non-guilty pleasure

Dominique Desjeux, consumer anthropologist, confirms a possible renewed interest: “The French are much more looking for bargains or low prices than one or two years ago. Far from the Covid-19 which has engulfed us in recent years, the concern has become: prices, prices, prices. Normal that the balances gain in 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 will therefore restrict themselves all the more to dispensable purchases, notes Yves Marin, consumption expert at Wavestone. The sales therefore allow breathing space in these healthy and tight budgets, with the idea of ​​having fun while doing good business, to get rid of the guilt”.

But the sales – a fortiori this year – are not 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 of 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 that 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. Sales in June are therefore of interest “even for products planned for September or this winter. It is more profitable to buy sweaters now, for example,” notes Yves Marin.

The sales, “big boat that sinks flat”

So, tidal wave in sight in the shelves? Not really, because the root causes of the disaffection remain: “Now there are private sales before the sales, promotions all year round, and above all sites at bargain prices, like Vinted or Shein”, suggests Dominique Desjeux. According to a survey by the union of independents and VSEs, 60% of professionals do not feel any particular expectation from their customers regarding the sales, which have become one promotional period among many others. They are moreover only 36% to estimate that the period which opens will allow them to sell the major part of their stock.

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

Internet, everywhere, all the time

Less leniency on the side of Elisabeth Tissier-Desbordes, professor of economics at ESCP and specialist in consumer behavior, for whom the sales are “in a state of advanced decrepitude, swept away by private sales. When we want brands on promotion, we take them before the sales. If inflation can allow a slight rebound, she says, it won’t be spectacular. “There will always be people who love hanging around in stores, touching objects, looking for the right offer. But they are becoming more and more of a minority,” says the specialist. A “it was-better-before” confirmed by Léo: “For children, nothing replaces live fitting and validation of the product in hand”.

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

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