January 10, 2017 / 6:06 PM / in 9 months

Uncertainty seen clouding French winter clearance sales

PARIS, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Competition from year-round promotions could dampen France’s winter clearance sales that start on Wednesday, a retail analyst said, predicting revenues could be flat to down two percent for the six-week ritual that ends on Feb. 21.

Yves Marin, senior manager at the Wavestone consultancy said on Tuesday some retailers would offer discounts of up to 70 percent to attract shoppers after a weak 2016, but cold weather should help clothing retailers.

“This is the first year with such promotional intensity. We had a strong Black Friday in November, Christmas and post Christmas promotions and this creates much uncertainty for retailers,” Marin told Reuters by phone.

The winter sales season traditionally provides an important boost for clothing stores, which often have a stock of winter clothes to sell. Cold weather since December should help boost demand for large items such as coats and jackets.

Big department stores, who struggled in 2016 as security fears tied to Islamist attacks kept foreign tourists away from the French capital, also bank on clearance sales to revive their business, Marin said.

Sales at Le Printemps store on the Boulevard Haussmann, one of Paris’ best-known shopping streets, fell 10 percent year-on-year last year, the store general manager Pierre Pelarrey told BFM-TV on Monday.

At rival department store Galeries Lafayette on the same boulevard, a group spokeswoman said 2016 was a “mixed” year, citing a steep fall in sales after the July Nice attacks and a return of Japanese, American, Russian and Brazilian tourists at the end of the year.

The winter clearance sales come as the euro zone’s second-biggest economy is showing some signs of improvement.

Consumer confidence for December stood at a nine-year high, the official INSEE statistics agency said last month, as unemployment fears receded slightly while households also felt more confident about their personal finances. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Pascale Denis; Editing by Bate Felix and Alexandra Hudson)

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