As every year after the Christmas and New Year's holidays, this Monday most of the retailers in the Czech Republic opened their stores with huge seasonal sales. But this time the discounts were much higher than in previous years. The general shopping binge was so big that it even caused long queues and traffic jams in several Czech cities.
At the beginning of each year all retailers intend to get rid of goods which they hadn't sold out before Christmas. This year the sales campaign was led by the French Supermarket Carrefour, which offered discounts on some products as high as 95 percent. But most of the other retailers selling electronics, clothes, furniture and other merchandise also joined the campaign.
Shoppers were interested above all in electronics, such as TV sets, cameras but also washing machines and dishwashers. The long queues in department stores often caused general chaos and mayhem, in some places even fights. Many customers were upset that they did not get the kind of products they had desired, as the merchandise was immediately sold out.
Shoppers sometimes described the sale strategy as an unfair retailers' trick, and said that the few products disappeared just minutes after the store opened. But Eva Williams from Tesco Stores says her company wouldn't launch that kind of campaign.
"That definitely wouldn't be our case. In our interest is that people who come to our stores can buy the merchandise that we advertise in our leaflets. So if we do reduce the prices to 40, 50 or more percent, it's definitely never only on a few pieces of items. Usually, we are reducing products which are seasonal - for winter, autumn...- which are in our warehouses and we want to get rid of them. We want to get rid of them in a way that customers buy them because they want these products, and they actually can save some money."
Czech customers weren't used to these kinds of huge sales in the past. But nowadays they are getting in the habit and they even expect these massive bargains. According to Eva Williams this is a general trend that comes from the western countries.
"It is true that for example in Britain; people still use sales opportunities even more than Czech customers. When I was in London I noticed people standing in front of the shops and waiting for them to be open so they can buy by sale products. We don't see this trend in the Czech Republic as much yet, but it will probably come as well."
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