French Retailers Seek Aid as Sales Fail to Recover From Lockdown

French Retailers Seek Aid as Sales Fail to Recover From Lockdown

French retailers called for government support after sales failed to rebound fully from a second lockdown, suggesting measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic are changing consumer patterns.

Despite a good pick-up in spending thanks to Black Friday discounts and year-end purchases, many clothing, shoe, jewelry, beauty-product and perfume retailers face a drop in revenue of more than 20 percent in 2020, the French Council of Commerce, a group of about 30 business federations, said in a statement on Monday.

“Many shopkeepers could decide to put up the shutters for good to avoid racking up further losses and dragging out an insurmountable economic situation,” said William Koeberle, chairman of the trade group.

Since lockdown restrictions were eased for so-called non-essential retailers at the start of the month, health protocols have meant reduced capacity in stores, and footfall has declined. At the same time, online sales have grown, jumping 20 percent in the week of Black Friday, according to e-commerce federation Fevad.

The French Council of Commerce urged the government to help retailers, and not just the smallest ones, adding that a number of chain stores were close to ceasing operations. This support should include allowing retailers to open on Sundays ahead of the delayed start of the annual winter discount sales on Jan. 20.

By Francois de Beaupuy.

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