In France, there is no Black Friday. There is no “after-Christmas” sale  or “end of the year clearout” sale. 

Instead, there are the semiannual “soldes.” AKA the fixed, 5-week sale that takes place in January/February and again in June/July. And January 6  is the first day of the winter 2010 sale.  

A study published by the Centre for Retail Research in December 2009 stated that 58% of French would be hitting the January sales, spending an average of €159 each. That’s an estimated €34.8 billion to be spent in the first weeks of 2010 – want me to convert that to dollars for you? 

So what better way to take advantage of the “soldes” than online (or via a mobile device)?

No obeying store hours and no lines. And you can even shop from outside the +33 country code. Score – or as the French would say, youpi!

E-commerce has been on a steady rise in France, as the French are by no means shy when it comes to buying online; in November, MediaMetrie confirmed 23 million French e-shoppers  during the 3rd trimester of 2009 (1 million mobile shoppers during the same time period). And 63% of French confirm that they buy online simply because it’s more practical.

There are a myriad of local e-commerce sites selling everything from foie gras to Sarkozy’s watch (though not his wife – at least, not that I’m aware of). 

Still, stats reveal that the French prefer to buy less food and more technical products online, making this the leading product category for online sales. Tourism and travel is a very close second.

Where are all the eyeballs?

Top-ranking e-commerce sites in France in terms of monthly uniques throughout 2009 include: eBay, PriceMinister, Amazon, Cdiscount, La Redoute, Fnac,, 3 Suisses, Vente-privée, Pixmania,, Rue du Commerce, Carrefour, Mistergooddeal and Eveil et Jeux.

Looking for a few more names? A more complete directory of over 430 local e-commerce players (700 websites) can be found on the FEVAD’s (fédération e-commerce et vente à distance) website here. Additionally, the FEVAD’s selection for the best e-commerce sites of 2009 can be found here.

Any idiot knows that sales + e-commerce = business.

So what does the scoreboard look like for e-commerce sites in the upcoming weeks? Well, during the first week of the semiannual sales in summer 2009 alone, the FEVAD announced a 7% increase of online sales (and a 10% increase during the first week for the winter 2009 sales). With an estimated 9% of the total sales during the January soldes to done online, e-commerce sites should be raking-in around €3.1 billion.

Oh, and you’re wondering how figures into all of this?

 The domain is currently on the market for $30,000. Now that’s ironic.

To anyone looking for a bit more info on the European e-commerce scene in English, ACSEL (association pour le commerce et les services en ligne) has a terrific publication, which can be found here.

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