Although economic regulations in the US have become increasingly onerous, they’re still relatively mild compared to other Western countries.
For example, I just learned that stores in France must abide by a variety of insane laws in order to hold a sale.
On January 5, 2010, blogger “DirkBeauregard” in France wrote:
Hooray, the sales start tomorrow in France. A chance to pick up a few bargains, if you actually have any cash left after Christmas. There again, you can always spend the credit note you got when you took your Christmas presents back, or you can spend all the money you made selling your unwanted gifts on E-Bay.
So, sales in France. Like everything else in this country, there is specific legislation relating to sales – laws designed to stop unfair competition and protect small shopkeepers from those “all year” sales by large stores who can afford to sell some items at a loss.
In France out of the sales period, it is actually an offence to knowingly sell goods at a loss, again a measure designed to protect small shopkeepers from large retail groups
Trading laws stipulate that there are two periods for sales in France. Winter sales from January to February and summer sales from June to July. In each case, the sales last for five weeks. All goods on sale must have been in the shop for a minimum of thirty days prior to the sale date – no buying in cheap stock and selling it as a sale item. Reuctions must be visibly displayed in percentage terms. Labels must also show the old pre-sale price and the new sale price. Retailers are allowed to reduce their prices three times in the sales – after the first fortnight, and again in the final week.
Outside the official sale periods, retailers are allowed two weeks in the year, to use at their discretion, for extra sales such as pre-Christmas sales or spring sales.
Shops are allowed to run “special offers” on certain items of stock throughout the year i.e. – a rack of cheap “end of line” clothing.
Shops that are closing down, or refitting are allowed to hold sales – “everything must go” with written permission from local authorities.
(I corrected a few typos in the original post, but otherwise quoted it verbatim.)
How nice of the French government to protect consumers from the danger of being able to purchase goods from willing merchants at low prices year-round!
(Via Tyler Cowen.)