Do you love the sales? Most people seem to fall into one of two groups. Those who love rooting through piles of clothes to find a bargain and those who will avoid the shops until it’s all over.
The Spanish word for ‘sale’ is ‘rebajas’ and traditionally, the sales in Spain, have been carefully regulated. There are two main sale periods; the summer sales from 1st July to the 31st August and the winter sales that usually start around the 7th January. ‘Semana Fantástica’ takes place at the end of the summer sale and during this final week you can expect to pick up some really cheap last minute items from the shelves.
Now in many regions, shops can hold their sales as and when they want. Although more opportunities to purchase at discount prices might be welcomed there can be drawbacks. A particular phenomenon is the shop or department store where there always seems to be a sale on. Hopefully, this state of perpetual bargain offers will not spread to Spain.
Real bargains or not?
But are they really bargains on offer or poor-quality stock saved for the purpose? The start of the sale is likely to provide more genuine bargains and as the reduction creeps up so is the likelihood that this is a product that no one wants. As a rule of thumb, most of the real bargains have gone within the first couple of days.
Sales items ought to have been on offer at a higher price for at least a month before the sales began. You should be able to see the previous price on the label. Although there are random checks on this, some shops let this practice slip. You should satisfy yourself that your prospective purchase is a real bargain.
Sales are there for a reason. It’s not just to enable you to buy something you’ve waited for at a cheaper price. It’s also to encourage you to buy items that you don’t really need. Don’t be tempted to buy just because of the reduction. If you didn’t need the item, then you have spent extra, no matter how much you’ve saved!
Can I exchange my goods?
Shops in Spain will have different refund policies. Usually there will be a period of a month during which you can take the item back with the receipt and exchange it or receive a ‘Vale’. The Vale allows you to buy something else in the shop within the next month. Stores are not legally required to change your goods if it’s just that you have changed your mind or don’t like them. However, some shops are prepared to do this and it is always worth a try.
Some items cannot be returned unless they are faulty, such as underwear or DVDs and video games which have already been opened. Sometimes shops in Spain will put up signs during sales periods to say that there are no returns. However, this does not apply to faulty goods.
You can usually exchange faulty goods or, in some cases they will be sent off to be repaired. If the equivalent good is not available for you to exchange be careful about accepting a credit note. You can insist on a refund if the product isn’t available.
In the end, if you are not happy with the service you’ve received you can always ask for the ‘hoja de reclamaciones’ (complaints booklet) which every shop must have by consumer law in Spain.
You can complete a sheet in the ‘hoja’ and take the green copy with the original to the Oficinas Municipales de Información al Consumidor (Consumer’s office) or to the town hall.
A new phenomenon that’s arisen in Spain, is that of Black Friday followed by Cyber Monday. These present additional opportunities for shops to put on sales prior to Christmas. The concept has come from the USA where Black Friday is the first Friday after Thanksgiving. This year it was Friday November 28th.
Unlike most sales, shops do not usually have everything for sale at the same time on Black Friday. During the day there can be new products that are suddenly put up for sale and the exact amount you can save can vary. The idea is that you keep on watching and are driven to buy when a product you like comes up. In other words, it’s a gimmick but one that has spread and is likely to take even greater hold in the years to come.
Unfortunately, in America, the day is usually tarnished by stampedes with hoards of shoppers storming through the stores with subsequent injuries and even the occasional death. Hardly a practice to replicate elsewhere in the world.
A good source of advice and information for people in Spain who are looking for discounts and offers all year round is the ‘Money Saver Spain’ website.
They have a weekly newsletter that is worth subscribing to and lots of other published information about your rights as a consumer in Spain. It’s one to add to your bookmark bar.