Sales and special offers

In retail, consumers must always be told the final sales price. In the case of discount sales, this refers to the discounted price.

Sales prices of discounted products

Discounts are calculated on the price applied previously (immediately prior to the sale) on the same retail premises, on the same product.
It is not enough to indicate the previously applied price and the discount rate and not to give the final price until the checkout. It is not compulsory to show the previously applied price compared to the discounted price.

If the store has not applied the non-discounted price in reality, the discount sale claim is illegal. This applies for example when a product or product group sold as discounted has never been sold in the store at the old price (RRP, original price, etc.), of if the store continuously advertises itself using expressions such as “sale”, “clearance”, “renovation sale”, “price crash”, etc.
If the price of a product is further discounted during a sale, the additional discount must be calculated on the previously discounted price.

If higher-than-average discounts (e.g. discounts of 70–80%) are advertised, the marketing materials must indicate to which products the large discounts apply and how many of them are available. It is misleading to advertise large discounts that in reality only apply to a small proportion of the products included in the sale.

Duration of discount sales and other limitations

Discount prices must be real. If a sale goes on for a long time, it means that the discounted prices become the retailer’s permanent prices. In other words, advertising of discount sales may not be continuous.

  • The maximum duration of discount sales is two continuous months.
  • Discount sales may take up a maximum of three months out of the calendar year.
  • There are certain sector- or product-specific exceptions to the acceptable duration of discount sales. This may be affected by circumstances, such as seasonal demand.

Usually the term “discount sale” may not be used for:

  • seasonal products sold for a very short period of time. Fireworks, for example, are sold so briefly that there is no time to form a permanent price applied prior to the discount price.
  • temporary sales events or retail store openings.
  • foodstuffs, because their prices fluctuate rapidly, so discount sales do not usually apply.
  • new, unique products that have not been sold before (e.g. valuable artworks or second-hand products). Because the price of a second-hand product is determined according to its age and condition, the product in question has in reality not been sold at any price prior to the discount sale.

Reference may be made to “affordable” or “low” prices, however, in marketing second-hand or unique products. This includes using expressions such as “reduced price levels” or “we have reduced our prices”, if this is really true.

Keywords: Offer, Price, Sale
Updated 23.10.2014 Print


The Consumer Ombudsman´s guidelines contain information on the application of provisions.