Friday, 22 January 2016

Considering the Dollar during Sales in France . . .

The United States has Black Friday, Canada is loyal to Boxing Day but it is the July and January sales in France that are the most awaited. The January sales, which officially are not allowed to start until after January 5th, certainly can't compete with the hype that Black Friday and Boxing Day have. In fact, on December 26th, I saw employees in a large department store removing Christmas decor and never saw any of it on sale in January. Do they store it? Really?

The French may be visiting outlet stores, local malls, and even independently owned shops in the villages now because of the January sales but seldom do they offer anything more than 30 to 50% off. Not only are the reductions never as enormous as they are in North America, but the sale selection is not as varied. That makes me wonder . . . Are mark-ups for regularly priced goods lower in France? Or are North American mark-ups so high that 70% off still allows the merchant to make an acceptable profit?


The Canadian dollar is the most pathetic I have ever seen it. The last time it was bad, but not this bad, was in 2009. As a result, I am certainly not buying as much as I did last year. I was looking at a "bouti", basically a quilted bedspread, that was priced at 160Euro. By the time I figured out the dollars I would need to spend (multiply by a humiliating 1.6), I began to walk away. The shopkeepers in small town South-West France are feeling the consequences of high unemployment, the loss of the the summer tourist trade, and the reticence of retired local Brits who are not buying much either even though their sterling is considerably well-positioned next to the Euro. The vendor offered a discount of about 20% on what she claimed were not sale goods and "free" matching pillow covers. Yes, well . . . I shook my head, did my best to express myself emitting that pouty puff of air (a French gesture of non-compliance) and shrug. She shrugged back and I said, "merci, mais non" and walked away. It is a matter of need. And I certainly don't need a "bouti" at the present exchange rate.

Now of course, I am reminiscing about a set of bedding that I saw at a previous July 2015 sale . . . sigh . . . would have, could have and should have . . . I'll be back and maybe the July sale in 2016 will once again have what I want at an exchange rate that is a tad more gentle on my wallet. I'm glad we bought our car in May.

While in Canada, a dollar is a dollar is a dollar to me since I get paid at that exchange; however when I am in France, it is quite a different thing.

The conclusion, of course is that, I don't have any motivation for a shopping spree, especially for clothing, before I return to Canada. This is a good thing for my 2016 clothing resolutions. I'll be back in Canada in less than two weeks and happy to spend my dollars there.


  1. Great post and financial lesson. Yes our Canadian dollar (or Canadian Peso as it's now referred to as ) is very weak. Things on sale in France or wherever aren't always that "great deal" when you take into account the exchange. You can forget about paying full price unless it's the ultimate "must have" item. Spending a buck at home in Canada seems like better value.

    Enjoy or should I say EnJoyD your remain time in France. :)

    1. Nice to hear from you! How is the CDN dollar doing in the US? I have heard that our dollar may not be that good but generally prices are better so that even with the exchange one can get some good deals. When I was in London at the end of September, I was feeling that Europe had bargain prices owing to how dismal our dollar was against sterling. I suppose it is all relative and one needs to be wise to it. Buyer beware.

  2. I had a little shopping spree in Mesa yesterday - at Goodwill!! With the CAD$ in free fall I can't bear to shop in regular stores. I came away with pants, top, belt, purse and the CUTEST dress. But I many need some accessory advice...

  3. Bravo! Patience is what you need most when shopping at Goodwill . . . it all depends on the volunteers who are organizing the goods. As well a basic knowledge of fabrics and attentiveness to details, like hems and such, make for a wise Goodwill purchase. As for the accessories . . . I just came back from France so bien sur I will suggest a scarf or two or three creating significant differences. Send photos - there's a post there.


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