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Shop Like a Local | Winter Sales in Europe

One part tradition, two parts extreme sport, winter sales in Europe give residents and visitors alike the opportunity to stretch their hard earned dollars a little further. While Christmas Markets provide an atmospheric introduction to the European winter shopping season, the streets surrounding these markets yield a far more sophisticated buying experience during the winter sales season. In most major cities throughout Europe, sales are state-regulated and typically only come around twice per year: once in January after the New Year and once in June before travelers embark on their journey in search of sun and sea.

After the Christmas Market street vendors have sold their last hand-painted ornament, and the smell of mulled-wine and gingerbread no longer linger, brick and mortar stores throughout Europe open their doors and slash their prices. Shop like a local as you maneuver between department stores, trendy boutiques and designer outlets with your rental car in London, Paris, Milan, Rome, or Barcelona and beat the swarms of competing shoppers relying solely on public transportation to move about the city.

The Best Winter Sales in Europe

LondonDecember 26, 2014 – January 31, 2014
Many high street stores in London begin their sales immediately after Christmas, either on Boxing Day or the day after, and wrap up either on, or just before the last day of January. The stylish boutiques and brightly lit store windows of Oxford Street beckon shoppers to come in out of the cold and take advantage of their unbelievably low prices. With certain items being discounted up to 75%, it’s hard not to fall in love with every intricately stitched garment you encounter. Carnaby Street, Covent Garden, Knightsbridge and King’s Road are also all worthy of a visit, as they each harbor an intriguing selection of big-name stores and smaller shops that offer huge winter discounts to eager shoppers. On the other end of the sales-spectrum, Bond Street and Mayfair are the ideal places to go for a more extravagant retail therapy experience. And while you’re unlikely to find amazing sales here, these areas are two of London’s most exclusive shopping areas that will likely be far less crowded than other parts of the city.

Some of Desigual's "Semi-Naked Party" Particpants

Some of Desigual’s “Semi-Naked Party” Particpants in Barcelona.

BarcelonaJanuary 8, 2014 – February 11, 2014
“Get dressed and go naked” used to be the slogan that marked the start of Barcelona’s winter Las Rebajas, which are the sales that fall during the five week period beginning on the 8th of January. Hundreds of people took part in a cheeky promotion put on by clothing company Desigual, where participants received a free outfit if they showed up to the company’s flagship store wearing only their underwear. Although a recent law has made it illegal to walk the streets of the Catalan capital in your skivvies, Desigual has organized a new event holding true to their original concept by incorporating a small fleet of party buses that are designed to house the scantily-clad shoppers. All designer and mainstream stores in Barcelona participate in these winter sales, so for the more modest, there are plenty of other shopping opportunities where you can get bargain-basement prices on highly sought after items all while remaining fully clothed!

ParisJanuary 8, 2014 – February 12, 2014
Slalom your way through the annual discount avalanche in Paris, and be privy to some of the best deals on designer apparel, art and home furnishings available in France. Referred to as, Les Soldes, these biannual sales tend to bring out the competitive side in just about everyone, because when these sales are close to ending, it is not uncommon to see prices drop as low as 75% off. It’s important to have your plan of attack thought out before you even leave your hotel room, so you don’t waste time wandering around aimlessly. Save some time and pick up a copy of the shopping guide that is circulated by the French Office of Tourism called, “The Shopping Book”. This guide will prove to be invaluable, as the sheer magnitude of these city-wide sales may initially seem daunting. The book organizes stores by specific shopping profile, lists hundreds of addresses, and also outlines a handful of themed shopping itineraries.

Rome storefront

Shoppers in Rome Taking Advantage of Winter Sales.

Milan & RomeJanuary 5, 2014 – February 10, 2014
Often touted as the pulse of the fashion industry, Milan welcomes its winter Le Saldi season several days before other cities, and retailers in Rome usually begin to mark down items around the same time. Milan is an internationally renowned haute couture powerhouse, where fashion jumps from the runway to store windows in a matter of weeks. Since styles usually reach London and New York around a year after launch in Italy, you’ll be able to cash in at these incredible winter sales and still return home with an array of trend-setting pieces. Rome on the other hand, is famous for the production of supple leather goods like gloves, belts, bags and jackets, and shoppers will be hard pressed to find better deals on these items anywhere else in Europe. The best shopping streets in the city for clothing are located near Piazza di Spagna, and travelers looking to purchase food or wine should visit the famed Campo de’ Fiori Market. Numerous local wine cellars near the market offer wine tastings and great deals on some of the best names in Italian and International wine brands.

Before Returning Home, Don’t Forget to Claim Your VAT!
Non-European citizens over the age of 15 who spend more than 175.07 euros in one store during one trip are entitled to a reimbursement of 12% VAT (Value Added Tax) in most establishments. To claim your VAT, simply ask a store associate for a “Tax Free Form”, fill it out and present it to the airport Customs Desk before your flight home. Keep all taxable goods sealed and unused in your carry-on luggage so customs officers are able to easily access these items in order to stamp your paperwork, signifying that your purchases are eligible for reimbursement. Tax refund lines are generally long, but will prove to be well worth the wait, especially if you have spent a considerable amount of money in multiple locations during your trip to Europe.

Auto Europe is able to outfit you with the car rental that will best suit your travel needs for finding spectacular winter sales in Europe. We have car rental fleets in most European cities that offer models with ample amounts of trunk space, so bringing your bartered bargains home will be completely hassle-free. Contact us today toll-free at 1-888-223-5555 to reserve your rental car on your upcoming trip, or easily make your reservation online by using our three-step booking engine. Do you have any additional insider tips on winter sales shopping in Europe? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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