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Retailers’ rebel yell

A leading figure in the French retail sector has said brands and retailers there are “sounding an alarm” as the Christmas and New Year shopping period approaches owing to the proliferation of protests and demonstrations in towns and cities across France.

In recent comments to business media, the president of business association l’Alliance du Commerce, Christian Pimont, said protests have been going on each week for a year now and are preventing retailers from carrying out their normal business activity.

“One shopper in five has reduced the frequency of his or her visits to city centres,” Mr Pimont said, “and Saturday is no longer the busiest shopping day in France. People are worried about the future, about their retirement and appear to want to save money rather than spend it.” Until last December, when protests by the ‘Yellow Vests’ movement disrupted commercial activity in Paris and other cities, department store Galeries Lafayette said its takings on one Saturday in December were around €5 million.

‘Yellow Vests’ protests have continued into October 2019, with Toulouse and Bordeaux among the cities affected. Paris, meanwhile, has been one of a number of cities around the world to have been affected by protests by climate activist group Extinction Rebellion. On October 5, representatives of both groups brought trade at the Italie Deux shopping centre in the south of Paris to a standstill.

Christian Pimont quoted a recent Bank of France study that showed 40% of retailers to be in a vulnerable position and said the sector would not be able to survive another Christmas shopping season disrupted by protests. Mr Pimont called on central government and local authorities to do more to re-establish a peaceful environment for shoppers, to allow increased Sunday opening in the build-up to Christmas and to lower the tax burden on retailers.

Image: Extinction Rebellion France

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