Organizing a sale? Here’s what you need to know

Outlining the application process, types of sales and the exemptions

If you are a business that is about to embark on a big sale, be it your anniversary sale or a Hari Raya Sale, that are a few rules and regulations that you need to abide by before you can do so.

The Competition and Consumer Affairs Department (CCAD), overseen by the Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE), has a set of rules that govern the conduct of sales in Brunei Darussalam.

What is a sale?

According to the Cheap Sale Price Regulations 2012, a sale is defined as the selling of goods or services which involve comparative sale price (displays original and discounted price), or price before and after a discount, percentage of discount being displayed and/or any words that might indicate or imply a sale such as sale, discount, price crash and more are used.

In laymen’s terms, if you are offering products and services with the implication that the products and services are discounted from its original price, then it is considered a sale.

Conducting certain types of sales in Brunei requires a store owner to inform the JPKE through the CCAD before doing so.

What are the types of sale activities that require permission?

Officially there are two types: regular sale and scheduled sales.

A scheduled sale is a large scale or nationwide sale activity that’s scheduled by JPKE to encourage locals and tourists alike to shop and spend in Brunei. The dates are determined by JPKE and usually lasts more than a month. Some examples of the sales are Jualan Aneka Brunei that is held during the festive season and the Brunei Salebration at the end of the year.

JPKE may initiate other scheduled sales in the future as part of its efforts to promote Brunei as a shopping destination.

A regular sale is a sale that is done by businesses by their own choosing outside of the scheduled sales held by the JPKE.

There are however, situations which business may conduct activities to promote sales without having to be subject to the Sales Regulations.

*Businesses may conduct activities to promote sales which are exempted from the Sales Regulations. Those are covered under exemptions – which this article also touches on further below.

(Update: This paragraph has been amended with an update by the JPKE)

How do I inform the JPKE if I want to hold a sale?

You can notify the JPKE through the CCAD by either getting the notification form from the CCAD, JPKE counter or by downloading the form at www.depd.gov.bn.

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What are the rules or requirement for a regular sale?

The conditions are:

  • Businesses must notify or inform the JPKE through the CCAD seven (7) days prior to the sale
  • The minimum discount amount is 10% (or otherwise set by the regulator)
  • At least 40% of the goods on display in the store must be discounted, or otherwise set by the regulator. Special consideration will be given to sectors that are unable to meet the 40% requirement.
  • Sales can only last for as long as 21 days, with a maximum extension period of 10 days with additional discounts.
  • There must be a minimum gap of 14 days before the next sales period.
  • A list of goods, with its original price, discounted price and discount amount must be provided with the notification form. Original price is the lowest price of a product 30 days prior to the sales event.
  • The business premise must maintain a record of all price documents of goods in case there is an inspection from members of the CCAD or DEPD.
  • The price tags of the discounted products must be displayed clearly, either using an original vs discount tag or a % discount sign/tag.
  • Any advertisements for the sales event must carry the Sales Notification reference number, dates and location of the activity along with the goods being offered.
  • Premises must maintain a reasonable stock of sale items
  • And finally, the JPKE retains the right to change the title of any sales events which are deemed inappropriate or misleading.

What about the rules and requirement for a scheduled sale?

The rules and requirements for a scheduled sale is the same as a regular sale with three major differences.

The first is that the duration of the scheduled sale ranges from 50 to 70 days, depending on JPKE. The second is that the minimum discount amount is 20% and lastly, at least 60% of the displayed stock must be discounted.

There’s one more thing. Businesses can only conduct regular sales four (4) times a year outside of scheduled sales, excluding opening and closing sales.

What about other sales? What are the exemptions? (besides regular and scheduled)

The first exemption is when you do price reductions without any indication of a discount (or previous price). For example, apples that were originally priced 50cents each, now sold and advertised as 30 cents each – without mention of discount or prior price.

The second exemption is for discounts that have conditions attached to it such as, ‘Members only promotion’, or ‘Weekend Promotion’ or ‘Buy One, Second Item 50% off’.

More examples are “New customers get 40% discount for 1st trial’, “25% off for 2018 wedding event on weekdays only”, “special discounts from selected outlets at ABC Mall for XYZ’s hotel guests”, and “30% off for customers with coupon”.

Assessment of which conditions qualify for this exemption is subject to Rule of Reason and is handle on a case-by-case assessment.

(Update: The second exemption paragraph has been amended with an update by the JPKE)

The third exemption is for verbally agreed discounts i.e haggling, bargaining.

Lastly discounts on perishable goods and 1 hour before closing time. This is usually for produce and bakeries.

According to an official that I talked to during a dialogue session that the JPKE had that was hosted by Darussalam Enterprise recently, the rules are there to protect the consumer and to avoid them from being misled by businesses when it comes to sales events.

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What about online businesses? (without a storefront)

According to the official that I talked to, online businesses are not the current focus of these rules and regulation; only businesses with physical locations are required to notify the JPKE through the CCAD regarding sales.

What if my current promotion falls under the exemptions stated earlier but I was given a warning by a JPKE inspector for being in contravention of the JPKE regulations regarding sales?

Nobody’s perfect and mistakes can be made. If you think you are not breaking any rules, take note of the inspector’s name and position and contact the CCAD either at Level 3, West Wing, Room 3.04, Block 2A, Ong Sum Ping Road, BA1311, Negara Brunei Darussalam or contact them by phone or fax at +6732230223 or +6732230223.

You can also email them at [email protected] or [email protected] or DM them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AduanPenggunaJPKE.

Senior Officers can then review the case and tell whether you are right or wrong.

What if I think a business is doing sales in contravention to JPKE regulations or I think that they are using unscrupulous sales tactics? Or maybe I just have more detailed questions.

You can also contact CCAD using the above mentioned contact information and either lodge a complaint or ask your questions.

The CCAD welcomes any feedback that businesses or consumers may have with regards to the conditions for sales activities as the regulations are currently being reviewed to support the ease of doing business and to uphold consumer welfare.