Friday, January 04, 2008

Belgium...where the sales are?

If you're like me, you love shopping in a country like Belgium where there are never any lines, you can shop 24 hours a day, and customer service is some of the best in the world. On top of that, where can you beat these prices!
The good news is that winter sales started yesterday.... the third day of the year is reserved for this local tradition (it sounds better than: ‘It is strictly forbidden to advertise any sales before this date’)!
Anyway, many shops prepared for this special event in the typical Belgian way. They closed Wednesday around 4.30 pm???? in order to prepare the sales. Of course this is rather annoying for the customers, but since this is Belgium is anybody surprised… but wait, it gets better!

To get the full picture about sales and competition principles in Belgium read this excellent article in The Economist
Here is a quick paragraph to wet your appetite. If it all sounds's because it is.

"During the twice-yearly pre-sales blackouts (there are also summer sales) a hundred inspectors from the Belgian economics ministry scour the country for advertisements, window stickers or price tags that even hint at discounts. A Prohibition-style speakeasy culture has sprung up in response. Gambits include putting question-marks on price tags and advertising “friendly prices”.

Chic boutiques in Brussels telephone favoured customers or send them “privilege cards”, inviting them to pop in for an early visit. Controls must be “extremely severe” to ensure that the rules stick, explains Robert Geurts of the economics ministry, who glories in the title of director-general for regulation and organisation of the market. Inspectors receive many tips by telephone as rival shopkeepers denounce each other.

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