Thursday, 20 January, 2022

Trade hard hit by the yellow vests movement

Are the yellow vests ruining the end-of-year celebrations for traders? The economic impact of the movement is increasingly being felt among distribution professionals as the Christmas shopping season is in full swing. It has been nearly a month since roadblocks have been installed on the outskirts of many shopping areas and large-scale car parks have been partially occupied, making it difficult to access stores. “There are currently around forty blocked commercial zones,” reports the Conseil du commerce de France, an association that brings together around thirty professional federations, such as the Deux center in Saint-Etienne, Salanca in Perpignan, Chamnord in Chambéry or even Tourville-la- River near Rouen. “

The blocking of certain warehouses is also starting to have consequences with shelves now completely empty in several hypermarkets. According to panelist Iri, supermarkets have lost nearly 500 million euros in turnover over the last three weekends. The difficulties encountered by distribution also have an impact on the agri-food industries with order cancellations, warehouse saturation and a great waste of perishable foodstuffs. The national association of agro-food industries (Ania) has assessed the impact for its sector at around 13.5 billion euros.

“The damage is irreversible”

The first mobilization of yellow vests, on November 17, had already led to losses in turnover of 40% to 80%. But the escalation of the conflict over the past two weekends has only worsened the situation.

Several stores were forced to lower their curtains in the middle of the day because the safety of customers and employees was no longer guaranteed. This was particularly the case for the Parisian department stores this Saturday. Some brands, especially in the Champs-Elysées sector, have also suffered from damage and looting. Some of them will not reopen for several days. “There was the case of Paris but many stores also had to close early in Montpellier, La Roche-sur-Yon, Brest, Avignon, Le Puy-en-Velay …”, recalls Yohann Petiot, general manager of the Alliance du Commerce, which represents 26,000 stores and 200,000 employees.

Faced with this conflict, which seems to want to last and gain momentum, Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of the Economy, has received trade representatives several times. Several support measures have been taken, in particular the possibility for stores to resort to short-time working and a relaxation of the rules governing Sunday work to allow brands to open more easily on Sundays. But for many professionals, it is already too late. A large number of customers have obviously placed their orders on the Internet in anticipation of Christmas and will not be going through the store again. “The damage is irreversible, warns Yohann Petiot. The traders will not make up for it.” Bruno Le Maire also asked the tax administration to show “benevolence” and “understanding” with regard to requests from defaulting companies in the form of payment delays or remission of penalties. Especially when an important deadline is approaching. On December 15, traders will have to pay the business property tax (CFE) and the last corporate tax deposit (IS). A course that will be difficult to pass.


Yellow vests