WITH the Summer Sales beginning in the Balearics tomorrow, the regional ministry for Health and Consumer Affairs has advised people to make a point of shopping responsibly and to remember that the consumer has the same rights over items bought in the sales as they do at any other time of year.

In a statement issued yesterday, the ministry said that the Sales are a good opportunity for people to buy items they couldn't normally afford but that shoppers should keep a budget for themselves in mind, and make sure that the item(s) they purchase are up to standard and are not a threat to personal health or safety.

The Health ministry said that in fact it had received very few complaints from consumers related to previous Sales campaigns. For the last winter period, the ministry said it had only had 20 official claims, and most of those were to do with the fact that the purchaser was denied the use of a credit or debit card to acquire a Sales item and that changing the item after having bought it was prohibited.

The ministry said that official Sales periods are marked by the change of a season when shops and department stores offer the same goods on their shelves at a discounted price. Tomorrow's Sales could last for an unconfirmed period, from a minimum of a month up to a maximum of two months.

The government reminded consumers yesterday that shops cannot buy stock just to sell during the Sales period so that items offered at a discount price must have been on the shelves before. The knocked-down price, said a spokesman, must be marked clearly alongside the original price. The discounts, he said, must be applied to at least half of the items in the shop. Those which are not subject to discount should be clearly kept aside from those which are.

Sales prices should be marked in the window as well as in the interior of the shop and should be differentiated from items which are “on offer” or “end of line” stocks.