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Business

Government to End Seasonal Sales Rule

With Germany's retail sector struggling to get out of the doldrums, the government plans to end a rule that allows retailers to offer discounts only during special seasons.

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Doing this all year round?

As part of a far-reaching reform of Germany’s competition law, rules on special sales and clearance sales are to be liberalized, Justice Minister Herta Däubler-Gmelin told Handelsblatt.

A commission appointed by Däubler-Gmelin reached consensus on this and other key points of the reform proposals. “The aim is to permit more special sales,” Däubler-Gmelin said.

But retailers will still not be totally free to launch discount campaigns at will. “We have to set limits to what is permissible under competition law. Otherwise small and mid-sized business will be squeezed out by the big chain stores. And that is certainly not our intention,” the minister said.

The preparations for a draft bill were said to be at an advanced stage and the process of passing it into law is to commence at the start of the next legislative period. Another major amendment to the law will be a clause specifically aimed at protecting consumers and not just competitors.

The commission also agreed that there was a need to harmonize the law governing online and off-line retail. But there is still disagreement over whether the amendment should include product copyright protection and over how consumers will be able to enforce a legal claim.

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