At 10 A.M. (my husbands birthday) January 3rd, we got into our car and started down Avenue Louise in Brussels. People were everywhere, walking in front of cars, running across the street like crazed lunatics. After great confusion and irritation my husband and I started looking into the shops these people were running towards and realized it was the start of Les Soldes d’hiver (winter sales) in Belgium. Until now, I had no idea Les Soldes existed outside of France.
Les Soldes are a huge deal in France (and apparently Belgium). They are biannual sales for the entire country, including all unsold merchandise. The sales last for 5 weeks (once in January and once in July), each week prices are slashed more. According to my husband, most of the shopping is finished within the first week, and almost everything is gone by the time discounts reach 75%.
Truthfully, the atmosphere really reminds me of Black Friday. It is extremely competitive, much like sport for many people. A great deal of woman actually schedule vacation during this period of time. I am a big fan of Les Soldes in the fact that they allow the average joe to get great deals on otherwise unaffordable products.
Unlike Black Friday, Les Soldes are conducted by the government. Dates are predetermined and strictly observed. Any sales happening at other times of the year are highly regulated.
Perhaps it is a good thing I have not yet received my Euro credit card yet…