Best Time For Summer Shopping In Europe!

Did your high season European flight take a huge chunk out of your savings? Well, at least the shopping doesn't have to be as painful, even with the weak dollar conversion rates.

Many countries in Europe, France being the most evident with their "soldes", have government regulated retail sales. This means they can only slash retail prices twice a year, which results in mega summer and winter reductions. For a general timetable and list of countries click here. I can only speak for France and the UK, since these are the two countries in which I've participated in the sales frenzy (so much fun!). But here's how they generally work (I should note here that UK sales aren't regulated by the government, but they still offer huge seasonal sales):

The summer sales usually start at the end of June and last until mid/late July. And when I say mega sales, I mean almost every store participates -- even Alexander McQueen and Prada! Different rules probably apply to each store, but how early you hit the stores can make a difference in what you can find and how cheap you can find them. Most stores will start their price slashes at 50 percent, but will reduce up to 70 percent as the month goes on.

It's simple: going earlier will get you better prices and goods. However, the shopping doesn't get really fun until it's dirt cheap so waiting a bit longer can still get you good stuff, but will be nicer for your wallet. The one downside may be that many of the goods are stock from the previous year and can look a bit grungy and sad. But check out these dresses from one of my favorite UK stores, Miss Selfridge. Previous season is by no means ugly:

Miss Selfridge Dress

Was: £45 Now:£20 (It's $40 but still reasonable. And pretty.)

miss selfridge dress

Was:£25 Now:£10 (Woo hoo! $20. Now we're getting close to Forever 21 prices!)

black miss selfridge party dress


Was:£25 Now:£10


And to highlight another benefit of the sales, the regulated periods teach you patience -- as in, don't buy it now, wait for the sales you dummy!

Maybe it's because I'm three months away from being on American soil, but last week I fell in love with a jumper at American Apparel in Paris and had an irresistable urge to buy. I paid 38 euros for a 38 dollar rag. But hey you live, get broke, and learn.

Which takes me to the one caveat: have prudence!! As with everything, moderation should be implemented as you don't want to pay the overweight luggage fee, which would ruin all your saving fun.


Chart from

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Guest's picture

Great chart, thanks for that!

Guest's picture

Note that the bigger the starting price, the greater the discounts. Its not uncommon for designer goods to have 90% off. Don't forget to take your sharpest elbows.

Guest's picture

i went to another country for christmas and only packed a carry-on bag and a bakpack. relatives gave me so much stuff, i exceeded the weight limit for carry-on - forcing me to check the bag. the flight home was uneventful, but it took an hour before i saw my bag again on the luggage carousel.

Guest's picture

wanted to know if the sales include electronics also..
like digicams and ipods etc..
by the way great work on the chart.. helped plan my trip too..