Selling the sales to Germans

Sale, percentage, reduction

Changes in the law often present marketing departments with unexpected headaches.

Now that the bizarre German law relating to “Kaufzwang” (purchase obligation) has disappeared, German retailers can have sales whenever they want (as long as the goods on offer are genuinely reduced).

This is nothing new in many other countries, but in a country that was only allowed to rush like lemmings to the sales twice a year (the Winter-Closing-Sales or Summer-Closing-Sales), there are now sales popping up left, right and centre. No more closing sales (Schlussverkauf), just “sales”.

The only problem is, the Germans don’t have a word for sales, unlike the French with their soldes. According to my sources, a leading retailer in the south of Germany received tons of complaints and queries from confused shoppers, who wanted to know what “sale” meant (just as well this wasn’t Italy, where it would mean dirty).

The solution: use the traditional symbol around here: %. Next to “Sale”. And just to make sure: [reduced]. Poor Kaufhof, I wonder if this really will save them from insolvency.

Alex Woodruff

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2 responses to “Selling the sales to Germans

  1. I had the same thoughts when I went through the city last week. You can see the advertisements for ” the Summer Sales” everywhere, and the vocabulary differs from shop to shop, ranging from “Sales” to “SSV” posters. On the one hand side my thought was “Poor the elders. Does really everyone knows the English word Sales?” And on the other hand side I thought “Poor the youngters. How could they understand what the 3 letters SSV stands for, if the shop doesn’t add any explanation to their posters?”

  2. Last time I went shopping with my grandma she saw a poster with “Sale” on it and pronounced it the German way. She was totally confused. I don´t know why everyone is chasing after English vocabulary…..

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