Covid-19, online sales, inflation … Many uncertainties before the winter sales

As soon as the Christmas shopping is over, it is already time for the winter sales which start on Wednesday. The period remains awaited by traders but loses its importance each year in the face of competition from online promotions, a fortiori in the midst of the “tidal wave” of Covid contagion – 19.

The weight of the health context

This year again, it is the biggest question for traders: to what extent will the Covid – 19 affect sales? “Given the health situation described as + tidal wave + by the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, we are preparing for a possible digital edition for the sales 2022 “, explains the Managing Director of Relais Colis, Jean-Sébastien Leridon.

In the week preceding the start of the sales , the Covid pandemic – 19 has indeed continued its outbreak in the world and in France, and if deaths remain on the decline, that doesn’t necessarily make you want to go window shopping, even in the figurative sense.

“The concern is strong, we see that the decision to put everyone to telework “to stem the spread of the Covid – 19” has already had a significant impact on the influx into stores, with in some cases a drop in attendance of 50% compared to last year “, alert to AFP Florence Bonnet-Touré, the general secretary of the national federation clothing (FNH), which represents independent businesses in the sector.

How to deal with private sales?

But this “anxiety-provoking climate” is not the only cloud on the horizon. Consumers on the lookout for good deals have noticed that private sales have already started, especially on the internet. More broadly, promotional operations have flourished in recent years, “which disrupts our benchmarks since by dint of seeing products on sale constantly, the consumer thinks that it is in reality the unrestricted price which is too expensive “, observes Gildas Minvielle, director of the economic observatory of the French Fashion Institute (IFM).

Last June, Amazon had thus organized its gigantic promotional operation of Prime Day on 21 and 22 June, a week before kick-off sales in France. A date set internationally but experienced as a “declaration of war” by some French traders.

What leeway for traders, while some sites, not domiciled in France, are not subject to the legislation of sales ? The consumer association UFC-Que Choisir proposed to the Head of State Emmanuel Macron to take advantage of the French presidency of the Council of the European Union, which “makes it possible to influence the European agenda”, to better legislate on online commerce.

Inflation … in fashion too?

Another important uncertainty, underlines Gildas Minvielle: how inflation will weigh on the fashion industry in 2022. She won’t spare him, he says. “Usually, fashion is a market where the prices increase rather slowly compared to other products of the economy, but there we will undoubtedly observe an increase. The prices of raw materials such as cotton, oil, wool have progressed, to which are added the problems posed by supply, such as the cost of freight, which weighs heavily on prices “, and encourages production less far than before, continues the specialist in the sector.

The context of inflation risks in any case weighing on sales, because when other expenditure items are more important, consumers reduce the budget allocated to fashion spending. In Europe, it is notably the surge in energy prices which explains an inflation rate of 5% over one year in December, according to Eurostat, i.e. a high in 25 years.

Something to worry traders, to the point that, according to a field survey conducted by the FNH to be published soon, 8 independent traders on 10 say they are worried about the sustainability of their commercial activity in 2022, according to Florence Bonnet-Touré.

(with AFP)