The Italian Almanac

winter sales

Winter Sales

Sales signs unfurled in shop windows throughout Italy launched a high tide of shoppers seeking post-holiday season discounts. January 6 marks the day most central and northern regions launch their post-holiday season sales, which are timed by regulation. If the shopping season goes as retailers hope, downtown shopping streets will see bustling crowds over the next weeks, mining for bargains and depleting shops of winter inventories.

Most consumers, or nearly 57%, plan to spend less than 200 euros on the sales, whereas 35.3% have budgeted 200 to 400 euros. Nearly 72% of all Italians currently await sales before replenishing their stocks of clothing, linens and other products, according to the retailers' association Confcommercio. That is up from 51% in 2008, before the full onset of the economic crisis.

"Even this year, the tail of the crisis became evident in the field of fashion, with performance for the autumn-winter season that is certainly not brilliant," said Renato Borghi, president of Federmoda-Confcommercio. "As a consequence, stocks of unsold stores are high and the offer for bargain hunters very large, both for variety and quality of products. We expect higher than average discounts of 40%".

Almost all retailers, or 98.2%, plan to apply discounts of less than 50% to their merchandise, but a hefty 42.2% of them will see markdowns of 30% to 40%. As a rule, the smaller the shop, the greater the discount, reports Confcommercio.

In Italy, regulated seasonal retail sales commence twice a year: the first week of January and the first Saturday in July. The winter sales sweep from south to north with staggered dates. Antitrust authorities recently ruled that the popular practice of pre-season sales reserved for specific groups of consumers (e.g. by invitation only) must be eliminated.