What to expect from Black Friday in France this year

If you are looking to get the best deals on your Christmas shopping this Black Friday in France, you might be a bit surprised to find the occasion slightly different here to the United States.

What to expect from Black Friday in France this year
In 2018 pedestrians walk past a store window with a sign announcing the so-called "Black Friday" sales, in Paris. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)

While Black Friday does exist in France, you are unlikely to find giant lines stretching outside of department stores, with anxious shoppers prepared to even spend the night on-site to secure the best possible deal.

The event itself is relatively new to France – it did not cross over the Atlantic until after 2013. While French Black Friday is still rather minuscule in comparison to the United States, most large retailers do participate at some level.

The discounts themselves

One primary difference is that the sales might not be as encompassing as they would be in the United States. In fact, Black Friday is not even the primary sale of the French calendar year. 

In France, there are two soldes (sales) periods per year. One in the winter, usually starting January, and another in the summer, usually starting in June.

Technically, these two sale periods are the only time that stores are allowed to have sales, but the definition of ‘sale’ is important. Basically, the French government qualifies a ‘solde’ as the store selling an item for less than they purchased it for.

During the rest of the year discounting is allowed in certain circumstances, which is what you are likely to see on Black Friday in France. This means that stores might sell items for less than their original price, but not below what they bought the item for, which is why the discounts you are expecting on Black Friday in France might not be as far-reaching as those in the United States.

A big advantage to Black Friday in France, however, is that consumer protection rules still apply, even when items are marked down. This means that consumers are still entitled to a refund if the item has not been expressly indicated as faulty. 

Store participation

In terms of store participation, you can definitely expect large retailers like Amazon, Cdiscount, Groupon and Sephora to offer sales, and some small stores and shops also participate.

More recently, French national rail services (SNCF) have even begun offering Black Friday sales, with discounts on both rail cards and tickets. 

READ MORE: How to find cheap train tickets in France

The three sectors in France that found particular success on Black Friday in 2020 were tech, fashion, and beauty – making it a popular day to buy electronics, clothes, skincare items and makeup. 

Specifically, the French news organisation, Le Figaro, found that among tech items, the best deals tended to be on televisions, which saw a price reduction of 16 percent on average in 2021. 

Le Figaro also noted that Black Friday in France has become particularly popular online, with many shoppers preferring to make purchases online rather than in person.

What do French people think of it?

The event has certainly become a tradition in France in recent years – with more than 6 out of 10 French people making purchases each Black Friday and many seeing it as the prime time to shop for Christmas presents.

According to a 2020 Poulpeo study on the French and Black Friday, the average shopper had a budget of approximately €330. The study also showed that one in three French people see the event as a “good way to save money and do their Christmas shopping early.”

Additionally, the study found that almost half (46 percent) of shoppers in France planned to buy from small retailers.

Nevertheless, even though Black Friday has become more popular in France, there has still been some resistance to the American tradition.

In 2019, more than 200 brands joined a collective called “Make Friday green again” with the aim of boycotting the US-inspired sales day. The brands argued that Black Friday encourages “artificial overconsumption” – which harms the environment due by encouraging overproduction and damages workers’ rights.

Several well-known brands joined the “Make Friday green again” movement – such as Nature & Découvertes, Jimmy Fairly, Emoi Emoi, Jamini, Bergamotte, Tediber and Manfield.

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MAP: The 20 cheapest French towns and cities to live in

The cost of living is a hot topic in France and across Europe right now - so where are the cheapest places to live?

MAP: The 20 cheapest French towns and cities to live in

At a time when purchasing power has never been so central to French people’s concerns, French daily Le Parisien has compiled a list of towns and cities where your money will go the furthest.

In order to produce this ranking, Le Parisien compiled the average salary in each location and then looked at the price of the average supermarket shop, the cost of transport (fuel as well as public transport), property prices (to buy or rent), property tax rates and the cost of a cinema ticket. 

READ ALSO Food, fuel and transport: Which prices will rise in France in 2023?

And it turns out smaller is better.

Of the 96 towns and cities tested, Niort, in the département of Deux-Sèvres in south west France (population around 60,000) came top,

Laval, in Mayenne (population around 50,000) was third; Saint-Brieuc, in the Brittany département of Côtes-d’Armor (population around 45,000), was 8th, and Rodez, down in the southern département of Aveyron (pop: c 25,000) was 10th.

The 20 most wallet-friendly towns in France are:

  1. Niort
  2. Châteauroux
  3. Laval
  4. Nevers
  5. Belfort
  6. Chaumont
  7. Épinal
  8. Saint-Brieuc
  9. Saint-Étienne
  10. Rodez
  11. Châlons-en-Champagne
  12. Quimper
  13. Arras
  14. Foix
  15. Poitiers
  16. Le Mans
  17. Colmar
  18. Montauban
  19. Bourg-en-Bresse
  20. Nantes

READ ALSO The 20 small towns most popular with house-hunters in France

Niort gains, the study found, in part because it has offered free local public transport since 2017 - a policy that other towns that rank well also implement, including second-placed Châteauroux (Indre), Bourg-en-Bresse (Ain, 24th) and Gap (Hautes-Alpes, 63rd).

For various reasons, including infrastructure, offering free public transport that meets higher levels of demand in larger cities is unviable, the report said. 

In fact, France’s larger cities are noticeably low in Le Parisien’s rankings. Lyon stumbled on to the list in 58th, Paris in 77th, Marseille 84th, and Montpellier 90th. Nantes, coming in 20th, is the only ‘large city’ representative in the top 20.

READ ALSO Wild boar, fast internet and kindly neighbours – why small-town France has the best of all worlds

The report stated that, despite salaries being little higher than average in larger conurbations, people also pay more for shopping, public transport, movie tickets, and housing.

The survey found that, on the whole, your euro goes further in the west of the country - where supermarkets are cheaper, and towns aren’t too congested, while the cost of a tank of fuel is lower, as are - researchers discovered - the more abstract costs, such as insurance, for the same level of service as elsewhere.

READ ALSO OPINION: An inflation ‘tsunami’ is about to hit France

Eastern France, the study found, benefited from relatively cheap property prices - offering more bang for a house-buying buck than the expensive ‘coastal bounce’-affected south or the Ile-de-France region, which orbits the cost-of-living singularity that is Paris.