France Aids Re­tail­ers Af­fected by Dis­rup­tions

With the sales sea­son start­ing, re­tail­ers hope to re­cover rev­enues lost over the cru­cial hol­i­day pe­riod.

WWD Digital Daily - - Front Page - BY MI­MOSA SPENCER

PARIS — On the eve of the win­ter sales pe­riod, French of­fi­cials said they will ex­tend mea­sures to help re­tail­ers re­cover from protests that have dis­rupted busi­ness across the coun­try dur­ing the cru­cial hol­i­day sea­son.

France’s win­ter sales kick off Wednes­day as the coun­try braces for the pos­si­bil­ity of fur­ther bouts of dis­rup­tion and con­tin­ues to take stock of busi­ness lost to the so-called yel­low vest move­ment.

Ini­tially sparked by plans for a fuel tax in­crease late last year, na­tion­wide protests tapped into broader dis­con­tent over de­clin­ing stan­dards of liv­ing, turn­ing sud­denly vi­o­lent. While gov­ern­ment mea­sures to re­in­force se­cu­rity and bol­ster pur­chas­ing power dra­mat­i­cally re­duced the amount of peo­ple tak­ing to the streets in yel­low safety vests, spo­radic out­bursts of vi­o­lence have kept of­fi­cials and

busi­nesses on edge.

Fol­low­ing a meet­ing with asso­ciations rep­re­sent­ing re­tail­ers and other busi­nesses, Agnès Pan­nier-Ru­nacher, a deputy to the French Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bruno Le Maire, said the gov­ern­ment has ex­tended mea­sures in­clud­ing al­low­ing more stores to stay open Sun­day into the new year, ex­tend­ing dead­lines for pay­ments of so­cial charges and push­ing banks and in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to speed as­sis­tance to busi­nesses need­ing ex­tra help. Pan­nierRu­nacher stressed the gov­ern­ment’s pri­or­ity is for busi­ness to re­turn to nor­mal.

“First and fore­most is the re­turn to or­der and se­cu­rity for peo­ple who work...a pri­or­ity for ev­ery­one around the ta­ble,” she said, speak­ing to re­porters fol­low­ing the meet­ing.

“The gov­ern­ment is very clear on this sub­ject. There are work­ing peo­ple whose em­ploy­ment is in dan­ger and we must re­turn to what I would call a nor­mal work­ing en­vi­ron­ment,” she added.

For a coun­try that re­lies heav­ily on tourism, images of pro­test­ers clash­ing with po­lice on the world-fa­mous Av­enue des Champs Élysées have also been a source of con­cern for the gov­ern­ment.

“The se­cond thing is that we are also com­mit­ted to re­as­sur­ing for­eign­ers that France is an at­trac­tive coun­try, a re­spectable place to spend a va­ca­tion,” Pan­nier-Ru­nacher added.

Tak­ing stock of lost busi­ness, the of­fi­cial noted that the sit­u­a­tion var­ied in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, with some places not­ing a de­crease of be­tween 5 per­cent and 10 per­cent in lost sales whereas other busi­nesses re­cov­ered in the run-up to Christ­mas.

“At the same time, it is a real cause for con­cern,” she added.

Re­tail­ers are hop­ing for a strong sales sea­son, noted Yo­hann Pe­tiot, head of the Al­liance du Com­merce, a re­tail lobby group mainly in the ap­parel sec­tor that in­cludes the coun­try’s main depart­ment stores.

“We are ex­pect­ing a lot from the sales… but they are open­ing in a cli­mate of in­cer­ti­tude,” he added. The pos­si­bil­ity that yel­low vest protests could crop up on Wed­nes­days, in ad­di­tion to Satur­days, cast fur­ther doubt over a gloomy cli­mate for con­sump­tion, he noted.

“It’s a ma­jor con­cern be­cause [Wednes­day] will be an im­por­tant day for kick­ing off the sales…gen­er­ally it sets the tone for the sea­son, along with the first week­end of the sales, so we can’t miss out on it — I hope it will go well through­out France,” he said.

Re­tail­ers are wait­ing for the end of the sales to mea­sure the im­pact of the protest move­ment on con­sump­tion and are count­ing on Jan­uary to build up cash in or­der to buy col­lec­tions for up­com­ing sea­sons, he added. “So it’s that much more im­por­tant that we man­age to have a suc­cess­ful Jan­uary,” he said.

While it is too early to say how steep dis­counts will be, pre-sales that started on Dec. 26 — early for France — car­ried dis­counts run­ning as high as 50 per­cent, noted Pe­tiot. Mar­gins will be the next source of con­cern, he added.

“[The dis­counts are] al­ready quite high, so re­tail­ers may re­cover some rev­enues thanks to the sales but it will have a ma­jor im­pact on their mar­gins…that’s also a prob­lem that will have to be man­aged in the long term,” he said.

Pro­test­ers walk along­side the Seine river dur­ing a yel­low vest protest in Paris.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.