Sales period in Europe

Would you like to take advantage of the sales in the neighbouring country? The European Consumer Centre France offers you an overview of the sales dates, shop opening times, VAT rates and national currency in each European Union Member State as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway and Iceland. You can also follow our practical advice if you buy a defective item on sale or if you finally want to withdraw from the contract.

"Les soldes": France's main sales periods

There are 2 main sales periods of a maximum duration of 4 weeks in winter and summer. The dates are decided by each French department by order of the Prefect. Beginning and ending dates are fixed compulsory for all sellers.

French winter sales

Winter sales usually start the 2nd Wednesday of January at 8am (or the 1st Wednesday after the 12th of January).

In 2020: Wednesday 8th of January until Tuesday 4th of February. Some départements escpecially in border regions where the neighboring country has other sales' periods have a derogation for other dates.
www.economie.gouv.fr

French summer sales

Summer sales usually start the last Wednesday of June at 8am (or the Wednesday before, if the last Wednesday is after the 28th of June).

In 2020: due to the coronavirus epidemic, the summer sales are postponed to Wednesday 15th of July 2020, for 4 weeks. Some départements especially in border regions where the neighboring country has other sales' periods have a derogation for other dates.

Online sales in France

The sales periods in e-commerce are the same as the national dates for shops. So, a seller, even situated in another country has to respect the official dates.

If the seller is being situated in a French département with derogating dates, the website has to respect the national dates also, not the ones of its département.

Outside these periods, sellers can advertise price reductions but without using the word sale, as long as they do not sell below cost (see below "other slaes and also eur-lex.europa.eu).

Good to know: For online sales you may benefit from a right to withdraw from your purchase. More information in our article on cooling off.

Good to know: Since 2014, there are four different VAT rates in France.

  • The standard rate of 20%

In 2014,the standard rate rose from 19.6% up to 20 %.

The normal rate applies to all taxable transactions for which no other rate is expected.

  • The reduced rate of 10 %

Products and services subjected to a 7% VAT before 2014 are sold with a 10% value added tax since 2014.

It is the case for food service industry, accommodation, some cultural services like books and television but also transport services (air, sea, rail and road). Only some activities are sold with the reduced VAT of 5.5 % (eg. entries to cinemas and performing arts like circuses, theatres and concerts). The special Corsican rate rose from 8 % to 10 %.

  • The reduced rate of 5.5 %

Different products and services are concerned such as: water and soft drinks, products intended for human consumption, special equipment for disabled persons and services provided to them, medical equipment, and subscriptions to the supply of electricity with a maximum power exceeding 36 kilovolt-amperes, heat energy, natural gas fuel, and heat supply.

  • The specific rate (“super reduced”) of 2.1 %

Among the sectors subjected to this rate you can find pharmaceutical products (especially drugs reimbursed by the social security), newspapers and periodicals, TV licences… The VAT rate for online press is the same as for written paper press: 2.1%. On some products, such as certain medicines, the rate is even 0%.

Legal guarantees during "sales"

Limiting the legal guarantee of conformity on items sold during “sales” is subject to very strict conditions. Shopkeepers still have to respect specific legal rules during the sales. The customer has the same rights as usual concerning manufacturing defects and after-sales service. This implies that the shopkeeper is obliged to exchange or to reimburse an item that has a hidden defect (a defect you could not see when you bought the product) or which does not conform to the order (see our article on guarantees in France).  

A statement that “Goods can neither be returned nor exchanged” can only refer to items which have been specifically indicated as faulty, or to those which are normally exchanged only as a goodwill gesture. If you buy faulty goods without being alerted, your rights to after-sales service still apply. In any case, always be careful when buying goods in sales and inspect them thoroughly!

Price indications during sales in France

In the shop, the distinction between reduced and non-reduced items must be made clearly visible to the consumer, otherwise this practice could be considered, misleading advertising. However, a general indication is enough if the discount or the new price is the same for all the goods, for instance, a 10% discount on all the items in a certain shelf.

The following pricing details should appear clearly on the label:

  • The previous price has to be crossed out (this price has to be the lowest one that was indicated within the last 30 days before the sales)
  • The new price
  • The total amount of the discount

The basis price has to be available also for factory outlets and sales via internet. They may indicate the basis price using two methods:

  • Either the dealer chooses to set the basis price to the lowest value the item has experienced within the last 30 days preceding the sale (it may also refer to a similar item), or he maintains the recommended retail price given by the manufacturer or importer.
  • In case there is neither a recommended retail price nor a similar item available, the dealer might refer to a price that has been suggested beforehand and which can actually date up to three years.

Nevertheless, the customer has to be made aware of where the basis price has its origins and the store as well as the website has to be able to prove that the basis price is a realistic one.

Other sales in France

Since 1 January, 2009, shops can offer discounts and organise clearance sales at any time as long as they respect certain obligations for clear information of their customers.

Clear information

  • about store cards: In France, whenever a shop advertises a discount, there has to be an advertisement inside the point of sale to inform customers about the terms and conditions. Store cards are included since very often only card owners can benefit from the discounts which are being offered. The exact conditions concerning those special discounts must be available: for example, there might be discounts exclusively available to a certain age group. So before signing up for a store card, ask for the main characteristics and check if this card is useful for you.
  • In case of a clearance sale along with the catchword “everything MUST go”, the advertising has to be stopped as soon as the concerned stocks have run out.

Seasonal sales in Europe

In order to get an overview of the sales periods, currency, VAT and opening hours in each Member state, see below.

Winter sales: from the 3th till the 31th of January
If January 3rd is a Sunday, the wintersales start on Saturday January 2nd.

Summer sales: from the 1st till the 31th of July
If July 1st is a Sunday, the summersales start on Saturday June 30.

Currency: Euro

VAT: 21 %

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday: 09:30/10:00-18:00/18:30 ; Shopping centres: 10:00-20:00
  • Saturday: 09:30/10:00-18:00/18:30 ; Shopping centres: 10:00-20:00
  • Sunday: closed, exception touristic areas

Tourist information: www.visitbelgium.com

Winter sales: no set period. Usually from January till February

Summer sales: no set period. Usually from July till August

Currency: Bulgarian lev (BGN)

VAT : 20%

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday : 10:00-20:00, in shopping malls till 22:00
  • Saturday : 10:00-17:00, in big shopping malls till 22:00
  • Sunday: closed, except big shopping malls 10:00-22:00

Tourist information: http://bulgariatravel.org

No set periods for sales.

Winter sales: usually after Christmas, but increasingly also before Christmas. 

Summer sales: no set periods for sales.

Currency: Czech crown (CZK)

VAT : 21%

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday : generally 09:00-17:00, in Prague city centre shops close later
  • Saturday : 08:00-11:00, in Prague city centre shops can be open all day
  • Sunday: closed, except for Prague city centre

Generally, shopping malls and chain stores are open 24/7.

Tourist information:www.czechtourism.com

 

Summer sales: From beginning of June till end of August

Winter sales: From the 27th of December or beginning of January till end of February

Currency: Danish crown (DKR)

VAT: 25 %

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday: 09:00/10:00-17:30/18:00 ; Friday 19:00/20:00
  • Saturday: 09:00/10:00-13:00/14:00 ; Major cities 09:00/10:00-17:00
  • Sunday: Closed. Exception: Larger stores and department stores are open on Sundays

Tourist information: www.visitdenmark.com

Usually in the middle or at the end of the season.

Currency: Euro

VAT : 20%

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday: 10:00-19:00, shopping centres 9:00-21:00
  • Saturday: 10:00-16:00, shopping centres 9:00-21:00
  • Sunday: closed, shopping centres 9:00-21:00

Tourist information: www.visitestonia.com

 

No set periods for sales.

Winter sales: From before Christmas to early February

Summer sales: From mid-June to mid-July

Currency: Euro

VAT: 24 %

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday: 9:00 - 21:00
  • Saturday: 09:00 - 18:00
  • Sunday: Most small shops (clothes etc) outside shopping malls are closed on Sundays. Shopping centres can open 12:00-21:00. Grocery stores and supermarkets & hypermarkets are open seven days a week and can open for example at 7 am already and stay open until 9 pm at least or even 11 pm, also some large 24/7 hypermarkets and grocery stores are available.

Tourist information: www.visitfinland.com

 

See article above

No set periods for sales.

Winter sales: begins usually at the end of January/beginning of February

Summer sales: begins usually at the end of July/beginning of August

Currency: Euro

VAT : 19 %

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Saturday: Different rules on state level: e.g. 00:00-24:00 (Baden-Württemberg); 06:00-20:00 (Bayern); 00:00-24:00 (Nordrhein-Westfalen); 00:00-24:00 (Berlin); ….
  • Sunday: closed; in some states the shops can be open a certain number of Sundays: e.g. 11 Sundays (Nordrhein-Westfalen)

Tourist information: www.germany-tourism.de

  • Winter sales:  from the second Monday of January until end of February
  • Spring sales:  1-10 May
  • Summer sales: from the second Monday of July until end of August
  • Autumn sales: 1-10 November

Currency: Euro

VAT : 24% (with the exemption of tourist services where 13%)

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday : 09:00-20:00
  • Saturday : 09:00-21:00
  • Sunday: closed. 7 Sundays/year from 11:00-20:00:
    • the first Sunday of each of the above 4 sale periods
    • the two Sundays before Christmas
    • one Sunday before Easter

Tourist information: www.eot.gr

 

No set periods for sales.

Currency: Forint (HUF)

VAT : 27%

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday: 10:00-18:00; shopping centres: till 20:00
  • Saturday: 09:00-13:00 or 10:00-14:00; shopping centres: till 20:00
  • Sunday: 9:00-13:00 or 10:00-14:00; shopping centres: till 20:00

Tourist information: www.gotohungary.com

 

No set periods for sales, usually in July and in January.

Currency: Icelandic Crown (ISK)

VAT: 24% on most products (lower on food, books and so on)

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday : 10:00/11:00-18:30/19:00 ; shopping centres: until 21:00 on Thursdays. Many grocery stores and petrol stations open 24/7
  • Saturday: 10:00/11:00-18:00
  • Sunday: shopping centres: 13:00-17:00/18:00. Downtown: most stores closed

Tourist information: www.iceland.is

 

No set periods for sales.

  • Summer sales, usually from June to August, are customary in the Irish retail sector, but retailers are free to offer sales at any time of the year.
  • Winter sales, usually after Christmas until end of January, are customary in the Irish retail sector, yet retailers are free to offer sales at any time of the year.

Currency: Euro

VAT:

  • 23% is standard rate
  • 13,5% special reduced rate for tourist related activities including restaurants and hotels.
  • 0% rate for books, children's clothes and shoes.

Shops' opening hours:

This can vary as shops can open whenever they want. The typical opening hours are:

  • 08:00/10:00-17:00/19:00
  • Thursday: 8:00/10:00-20:00/22:00
  • Sunday: 9:00/11:00-17:00/19:00

Large shopping centres and out-of-town centres are typically open longer hours everyday. Also, in the run up to Christmas it is typical for shops to extend their opening hours.

Tourist information:

www.discoverireland.ie

www.failteireland.ie

 

Winter sales: sales are regulated by regions, from 2nd of January in Basilicata, 3rd of January in Valle D'Aosta, 6th of January in Sicily, 5th of January in the other regions to between end of February - end of March.

Summer sales: sales are regulated by regions, usually from the first week of July until mid/end of August. In Puglia and Sicily the summer sales will end on September 15.

Currency: Euro

VAT : 22%

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday : 09:30-19:30
  • Saturday : 09:30-19:30
  • Sunday: closed ; open in tourist areas from 10.00 to 19:30 and department stores from 10:00 to 22:00

Tourist information: www.enit.it

 

Usually in the middle or at the end of the season.

Currency: Euro

VAT : 21%

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday: 10:00-21:00
  • Saturday: 10:00-21:00
  • Sunday:10:00-20:00

Tourist information: www.latvia.travel/lv

 

No set periods for sales. 

Winter sales: January 1-31, but allowed to prolong until the end of winter

Summer sales: July 1-31, but limits are not strict, can be prolonged until end of summer, mid-season sales also allowed.

Currency: Euro

VAT : 21%

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday: 10:00-19:00, Shopping centres & Malls 10:00-22:00
  • Saturday: 10:00-18:00 Shopping centres & Malls 10:00-22:00
  • Sunday: Shopping centres 10:00-18:00; Malls 10:00-22:00

Tourist information : www.tourism.lt

 

The law foresees two sales periods per year which are annually fixed. One period cannot be longer than one month. Winter sales are usually organized at the beginning of January. Summer sales are usually organized in the middle or the end of July.

Currency: Euro

VAT: 17 %

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday: 09:00-18:00 ; Shopping malls usually from 08:00-20:00
  • Saturday: 09:00-18:00 ; Shopping malls usually from 08:00-18:00
  • Sunday: closed. It becomes more and more common that shops are, for instance during sales periods, but not only, open on Sundays (“ouvertures dominicales”, exact dates can be found on the internet).

Tourist information: www.lcto.lu

 

No set periods for sales.

Seasonal reductions can be found throughout the year.

Summer sales: usually start mid-July till the end of August/September. Winter sales: usually after Christmas till February.

Currency: Euro

VAT : 18%

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday : 09:00-13:00/16:00-19:00 ; Certain shops and larger shopping centres remain open during the afternoon from 10:00 to 19:00/22:00
  • Saturday : 09:00-13:00/16:00-19:00 ; Certain shops and larger shopping centres remain open during the afternoon  from 10:00 to 19:00/22:00
  • Sunday: closed except in tourist areas during Summer and Christmas period/ public holidays

Tourist information: www.visitmalta.com

 

No set periods for sales.

Winter sales: usually in January

Summer sales: usually in July & August

Currency: Euro

VAT : 21 %

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday: 09:00-18:00 ; largest cities until 21:00 on Thursdays or Fridays
  • Saturday: 9:00-17:00
  • Sunday: 12:00 - 17:00 in largest cities. Some city centres are open on just one Sunday per month

Tourist information: www.holland.com

 

No set periods for sales.

Winter sales start usually December 27th or in January.

Summer sales start late June and are over at the end of July.

Currency: Norwegian Crown (NOK)

VAT: 25 %

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday: 9:00/10:00 - 17:00 ; Shopping centres: 10:00-21:00/22:00
  • Saturday: 09:00 - 15:00/17:00  ; Shopping centres: 10:00 - 18:00
  • Sunday: Closed except Shopping Centres in Christmas time. 

Tourist information: www.visitnorway.com

 

Winter sales: 2nd of January till 13th of February

Summer sales: usually starts in the end of June (the hottest time for buying remains July and August, then you can buy things even 70-90% cheaper).

Currency: Polish Zloty (PLN)

VAT : 23%

Shops' opening hours:

  • Monday-Friday: 11:00-19:00 ; Shopping centres: 10:00-22:00
  • Saturday: 10:00-15:00; Shopping centres: 10:00-22:00
  • Sunday: 10:00-20:00  (Shopping centres only)

Tourist information: www.poland.travel/en

 

No set periods for sales. Actually the law only sets a maximum of four months of duration per year. Sales usually take place after summer and winter seasons.

Currency: Euro

VAT : 23%

Shops' opening hours:

    Shops have free opening hours. Though, municipalities can reduce the opening hours for different reasons. Traditionally, shops are open:

    • Monday-Friday: 9:00/10:00-19:00
    • Saturday from Jan. to Nov.: 13:00. In City centres, some are opened in the afternoon.

    Shops tend to stay open on Saturday afternoons and sometimes on Sundays (before Christmas). 

    Tourist information: www.visitportugal.com

     

    Winter sales: 15th January - 15th April

    Summer sales: 1st August- 15th October

    Currency: RON

    VAT : 19%

    Shops' opening hours:

    • Monday-Friday: 09:00-22:00
    • Saturday: 09:00-22:00
    • Sunday: 09:00-22:00

    Tourist information : www.anat.ro

     

    No set periods for sales.

    Winter sales: Usually after Christmas

    Summer sales: Usually after summer season

    Currency: Euro

    VAT : 20% (10% for selected food products, e.g. milk, butter, meat, bread)

    Shops' opening hours:

    • Monday-Friday: 08:00-18:00 ; Shopping centres: 09:00-21:00 ; Some centres open at 10:00.
    • Saturday: 06:00-12:00 ; Shopping centres : 9:00-21:00 ; Some centres open at 10:00.
    • Sunday: closed. Supermarkets: 8:00-20:00 ; Shopping centres: 09:00-21:00 ; Some centres open at 10:00.

    Tourist information: http://slovakia.travel/

     

    Winter sales: 2nd working Monday in July, commercial decision of the trader but not more than 60 days.

    Summer sales: 1st working Monday in January, commercial decision of the trader but not more than 60 days.

    Currency: Euro

    VAT : 22%

    Shops' opening hours:

    • Monday-Friday : 08:00-20:00
    • Saturday : 8:00 - 17:00, shopping centres usually 8:00 - 21:00
    • Sunday:  if opened than usually 8:00 - 12:00, shopping centres 9:00- 15:00

    Tourist information : www.slovenia.info

     

    Winter sales: its start date is usually January 7, although it is possible that in certain cities such as Madrid can start on January 1. According to the area of Spain they can be longer and last even until the end of March.

    Summer sales: Normally, from July 1 to approximately end of September. Depending on the area of Spain, it can be advanced or extended for a few days.

    In both cases (summer and Winter): According to current legislation (article 25 of Law 7/1996, on the organization of retail trade), each establishment is free to choose the period and duration of the sales throughout the year. The period of sales must be exhibited in the commercial establishment in a visible place to the public, even when it remains closed.

    Currency: Euro

    VAT : 21%

    Shops' opening hours:

    • Monday-Friday : 09:30-13:30/17:00-20:30
    • Saturday : 09:30-13:30/17:00-20:30
    • Sunday: 10:00-20:00 (Shopping centres only and depending on autonomous community)

    The Spanish legislation establishes that businesses may develop their activity: - At least 90 hours during the working days of the week and a minimum of 16 Sundays and holidays per year.

    Tourist information: www.tourspain.es

     

    No set periods for sales. There are sales throughout the year, just not promoted as "summersales" or "wintersales" (usually just after Christmas, starts on 25th of December (Mellandagsrea)). In summer, there are facultative and no fixed dates: depends mostly on the economic sector and the geographical region, but usually the week before Midsummer (round the 10th June) until the first half of July.

    “REA” indicates a sale; “Extrapris”, used along with red price labels, indicates discounts of at least 10%; and “Fynd” indicates special offers.

    Currency: Swedish Crown (SEK)

    VAT: 25 %

    Shops' opening hours:

    • Monday-Friday: 09:30 - 18:00
    • Saturday: 09:30 -14:00/16:00
    • Sunday: closed. In larger towns, department stores remain open until 19:00 or longer. Some are also open on Sundays between 12:00 - 16:00.

    Tourist information: www.visit-sweden.com

     

    No set periods for sales. You can find them at most times of the year.

    Currency: Pound Sterling

    VAT: 20 %

    Shops' opening hours:

    • Monday-Friday: 9:00/9:30 - 17:30
    • Saturday: 9:00/9:30 - 17:30
    • Sunday: 10:30-16:30

    Tourist information: www.visitbritain.com