PARIS (Reuters) - Around three quarters of French shoppers plan to participate in winter sales starting on Wednesday, a poll showed, spending roughly the same as last year as they seek out bargains against a gloomy economic backdrop.
Some 74 percent of participants in the Ipsos poll for French retail association CNCC said they would join in the five-week winter ritual starting on January 8.
That compares with 76 percent last year and the year before, and 85 percent in 2011, with just over one in four saying this time around that year-round promotions had taken the shine off the state-regulated winter clearance season.
The average budget for shoppers is expected to reach 225 euros ($310), unchanged from last year despite a stalled economy and near record unemployment.
"Winter sales will take place this year in a climate where economic pressure remains high. But while worries (about the economic situation) are still high, they are not worsening," CNCC said in a statement.
Some 53 percent of respondents said they believed the worst of the economic crisis was yet to come, against 56 percent in 2013 and 64 percent in 2012, the Ipsos poll found.
A separate IFOP poll for online shoe store Spartoo put this year's average sales budget at 205 euros, up 4 euros from last year.
While recent data suggests the euro zone economy is clawing its way back towards a respectable rate of growth, the picture in France - the bloc's second-biggest economy - appears to be deteriorating.
Manufacturing activity shrank in France at the fastest pace in seven months in December while it improved almost everywhere else in Europe, according to a monthly purchasing manager survey published last week.
Editing by John Stonestreet