Friday, 21 January, 2022

In the midst of Christmas shopping, local shops also hit by strikes


“It’s very, very quiet.” This is the verdict of Aurélie *, manager and saleswoman of a store in the Claudie Pierlot chain, in the rue du Commerce, a shopping street popular with the inhabitants of the 15th arrondissement of Paris, and those who work in the surrounding offices.

The strikes “undermine morale”

The windows of this small neighborhood street do not display wooden planks, like some more frequented artery stores in central Paris regularly surveyed by demonstrators. The street, with its sparkling Christmas decorations and pine trees on the sidewalk, seems ready for the holidays. Only the customers are not there. Demonstrations at the call of the SNCF and RATP unions, among others, against the government’s pension reform weigh on year-end spending. “We are not able to reach our sales objectives”, confides Aurélie. “This Saturday was fine, but it was not what we are used to during Christmas time.” At her place, even the regulars are rare: “We have regular neighborhood customers: most of them are mothers. They don’t come anymore. The same goes for the customers who work next door, and who came for lunch. To believe that the strikes put down the morale of everyone. ”

Read also – Pensions: what does the international press say about strikes and demonstrations in France?

One year after the blow to businesses by the demonstrations of yellow vests, traders are again worried about the consequences that strikes and demonstrations could have on their turnover. Even for local shops, a priori less exposed to the negative consequences of demonstrations than those in areas heavily dependent on transport, the finding is negative. “There are neighborhood customers, but we already know this one,” explains Aurélie. “We lose the passing customer, who was shopping in the street and enters on a whim.”

This is the verdict of Aurélie *, manager and saleswoman of a store in the Claudie Pierlot chain, in rue du Commerce. This shopping street, popular with the inhabitants of the 15th arrondissement of Paris, is locally appreciated for its warm family character.

The strikes “undermine morale”

The windows of this small neighborhood street do not display wooden planks, like some more frequented street shops in central Paris, regularly surveyed by demonstrators. The street, with its sparkling Christmas decorations and fir trees on the sidewalk, seems ready for the holidays. Only the customers are not there. Demonstrations at the call of the SNCF and RATP unions, among others, against the government’s pension reform weigh on year-end spending. “We are not able to reach our sales objectives”, confides Aurélie. “This Saturday was fine, but it was not what we are used to during Christmas time.” At her place, even the regulars are rare: “We have regular neighborhood customers: most of them are mothers. They don’t come anymore. The same goes for customers who work next door, and who came for lunch. To believe that the strikes put down the morale of everyone. ”

Read alsoPensions: what does the international press say about strikes and demonstrations in France?

One year after the blow to businesses by the demonstrations of yellow vests, traders are again worried about the consequences that strikes and demonstrations could have on their turnover. Even for local shops, a priori less exposed to the negative consequences of clashes than those in areas heavily dependent on transport, the finding is negative. “There are neighborhood customers, but we already know this one,” explains Aurélie. “We lose the passing customer, who was shopping and entering on a whim.”

“We still manage to have more or less correct days, shade Chloë *, who sells Kiehl’s brand cosmetics, further down the street. “But the strike is making it very difficult for us sellers. One of my colleagues lives in Drancy, she has great difficulty getting to work. This morning, my trip took more than 2 hours, compared to 45 minutes usually. And if we cannot come, we are not paid, ”adds the young woman.

30% decrease in activity on average

The month of December “represents between 10% and 20% of the annual turnover of traders, according to figures from the federation of traders Alliance du Commerce. This structure, which brings together the Union du grand commerce de center-ville , the Federation of Clothing Stores and the Federation of Footwear Stores, represents 26,000 stores and 200,000 employees in the personal equipment sector.

The single day of Thursday, the first day of strike, resulted in “a 30% drop in activity on average in stores,” worried the federation of the trade alliance in a statement released on Friday. “The impact of the strike is particularly strong in the city centers of metropolises and large cities because of the transport strike, the significant drop in store traffic but also the closure, complete or partial (one or two hours), many shops. ”Rue du Commerce, this is the case:“ We close half an hour earlier, otherwise the teams cannot return, ”reports Chloë.

Read alsoStrike of 5 December: why the conflict is likely to last

“This new mobilization, if it continues, would break the dynamic of the recovery in November,” comments Yohann Petiot, director of the Alliance du Commerce federation. Not to mention its negative impact on international tourists “and the risk of” France’s loss of attractiveness abroad “.

“Good” trade in the region

The Secretary of State for the Economy Agnès Pannier-Runacher drew up an assessment of the trade of the weekend, this Monday on CNews: the sales and purchases would have been “contrasted in Paris” and “good in other cities”, in particular Marseille, Bordeaux and Toulouse. Regarding the capital, “we have good news in certain sectors, but rather an overall decrease in turnover,” she underlined.

Read alsoHow the yellow vests weigh down the frequentation of shops

The Secretary of State fears, however, greater consequences if the social movement were to continue, especially in the catering and tourism sectors, where traders do not record any postponement of turnover.

The government has responded to the distress of traders. “I [les] will receive next week “, said the Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire on Sunday on France 3.” There can be all kinds of support measures for traders “, he assured without more precision. “We will not let them down, and certainly not on the eve of the Christmas holidays.” Before clarifying that he would look “on a case by case basis what the situation is.”

Last year, in the midst of the yellow vests crisis, the government had put in place measures to help traders, such as the postponement of payment of certain social deadlines, the spreading of the payment of tax debts, or even allowances for maintain employees in employment.

No jump in online sales

Will e-commerce recoup spending that consumers were unable to make in-store? If we are to believe the figures for 2018, the year when in-store trade was more difficult to carry out with the demonstrations of the yellow vests, this would be partly the case. The Christmas period 2018 was good for e-commerce, but without exploding sales according to figures from Fevad, federation of e-commerce and distance selling. The turnover of e-commerce in France increased by 1.8 billion euros between Christmas 2017 and Christmas 2018, that is to say a growth of 12.1%: a decent balance sheet although “lower than forecasts of 13, 6% ”, observes Fevad. In question: a slowdown in growth which would have weighed on French spending.

“We are waiting to see what the next few days will give”, said Aurélie, her eyes vague. Tuesday 10 promises to be difficult. RATP and SNCF predict the same disturbances as on the first day of the social movement.

* First names have been changed.

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