By  on July 17, 2009

PARIS — Despite bigger discounts, France’s summer sales have flopped, according to initial results released Thursday.

L’Institut Français de la Mode (IFM) — the French Fashion Institute in English — reported business over the first two weeks of sales, which began on June 24, was down between 3 and 5 percent compared with the same period last year. Hypermarkets suffered the biggest decline, with sales down at least 10 percent. Only department stores managed to maintain 2008’s levels.

“This result seems to confirm a certain attenuation of the ‘sales effect,’” said Charles Tillard-Tête, the IFM’s head of statistics. Traffic appeared to be in strong decline at a majority of the retailers surveyed, and the average shopping basket was also less than last year’s, the IFM said.

Those trends were confirmed by the Fédération des Enseignes de l’Habillement (FEH) — the French Federation of Apparel Retailers in English — which reported business slowed 2 percent year-on-year during the first two weeks of sales. The FEH, which represents 400 retailers operating some 15,000 stores, said the economic crisis contributed to the decline but also blamed so-called floating sales, when French retailers were allowed to hold sales outside the official periods this year for the first time.

The FEH said when sales kicked off the discounts were noticeably higher than last year, which weighed on retailers’ business.

The FEH said its members had anticipated a decline in consumption and adjusted their buying patterns and inventory levels.

“However, FEH retailers remain very cautious as to the perspectives of the second half 2009,” the organization said.

Sales continue across France until July 28.

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