Ready, set, go: the Belgian sales have started!
Fashionista is fascinated to learn that in Belgium sales are regulated closely. This means that traders (including those really cool Belgian boutiques) can only sell products in a 'sale' ('solden' in Dutch/'soldes' in French) twice a year: winter sales in January and summer sales in July. Both periods are defined by law for all of Belgium. The first official sales period for 2010 began on 2 January and will end on the last day of the month.
The regulations provide that the products must be sales items that have already been on sale in the same store and before the start of the sales there is a black-out period ('sperperiode' in Dutch/'période d'attente' in French), during which it is prohibited to have sales in the clothing, footwear and leather sector.
Belgium is an outsider in Europe as it comes to its regulation of sales. In some Member States (e.g. France, Italy, Spain), it is up to regional or local authorities to determine the periods during which such end-of-season sales may take place. Other Member States do not have specific legislation concerning the timing of end-of-season sales (e.g. Finland, The Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom). In these Member States the rules prohibiting misleading advertising are the main rules regarding end-of-season sales and other special sales events.
Each year several large Belgian fashion stores infringe the sale regulation, in particular with respect to the black-out period. And what is more compared to large fashion stores, the smaller boutiques run by independent and self-employed retailers are liable to proportionally larger penalties for infringing the sale regulations. So various organisations representing self employed traders are lobbying for an amendment of the current sales regulation. It is expected that Belgium will agree to this, as the European Commission recently issued a formal notice of default to the Belgian State for not having abolished (amongst other things) the sales regulation while implementing the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.
Meanwhile, Fashionista and Modeliste are off to find some bargains in Brussels . . . .
Posted for Christine - for Fashionista-at-Law's Brussels desk.