The Italian Almanac

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Post-Holiday Sales

Post-holiday sales kicked off in Italy with retailers hoping to make up for a disappointing Christmas period, while consumer groups are predicting that even these sales will be disappointing. Naples opened the sales period which will not begin until Saturday in most cities, including Milan and Rome, while in Reggio Calabria sales will not start until January 15.

According to a poll taken by the Confesercenti retailers' association, 60% of its members said business at Christmas was down over last year, while 28% said it was more or less the same and 12% reported an increase in sales, although by less than 10%. This despite 90% of those polled claiming that prices remained unchanged from last year. For over 65% of small and medium-sized retailers, post holiday sales account for between 20% and 30% of their annual turnover, while for 25% it represents as much as half. Despite the alleged freeze on prices, the consumer rights organization Codacons predicted that there will be a drop of between 5% and 10% in post-holiday sales over last year, with the average buyer spending 125 euros.

In order to combat fraud during the sales period, Codacons mounted a campaign in which it encouraged shoppers to photograph prices in shop windows before the sales began and to forward them to the organization. Codacons will then deploy 'inspectors' to verify price reductions ''and any and all irregularities will be reported to the proper authorities. What we want to do is combat the usual rip-offs and help shoppers make the right choices,'' the Codacons chief explained. He also suggested that buyers hold on to their receipts ''because it is not true that goods bought on sale cannot be replaced''. The group also warned against ''discounts of over 50%, which usually disguise sales of dated goods or false original retail prices. Above all, shop in places you know and which know you''.

The post-holiday sales period runs through February and into March in most cities, although they close in Rome and Genoa in mid-February.