Amazon

PARIS — Black Friday in December? French retailers have agreed to postpone Black Friday sales for a week, if stores are allowed to reopen soon, according to the country’s finance ministry.

Amazon in France had said earlier Friday that it agreed to postpone the annual sales bonanza in response to pressure from retailers in the country that are struggling for survival under the current lockdown measures here.

The afternoon agreement between the government and French retailers reached at the finance ministry was a prerequisite to reopening retail stores in the country, which could begin in December.

“All actors applaud the spirit of responsibility and solidarity that has prevailed over the past two days of exchange,” said the statement from the finance minister’s office, which was signed by a string of retail associations including Fevad, which represents e-commerce operators, and Procos, which defends the interests of specialty retailers.

“We are acting responsibly,” Frédéric Duval, who heads Amazon’s French operations, said on France Info radio earlier in the day.

“We are mindful of the social context and so we want to do what’s right,” Duval added. The executive specified that the postponement only applies to the French version of the company’s web site, and noted that the company accounts for around one percent of retail sales in France.

Amazon has become a lightning rod for the frustration of smaller retailers, which has risen sharply amid the latest round of lockdown measures. Le Maire said earlier this month that scapegoating the e-commerce giant was not a solution to retail woes in the country, noting that the majority of online business in France was generated by French companies

“Our common objective is to guarantee retail activity over the long term under the strictest sanitary conditions,” the finance minister said.

Some companies have already begun offering discounts through e-commerce sites, without referring to Black Friday.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said Friday that the country would begin gradually reopening some activities in the first week of December.

“The protective measures we have taken have proven absolutely necessary. They were not, of course, directed against shopkeepers. They had one objective, that of restricting the reasons for leaving the house. I see that this strategy has begun to produce results,” he said.

“It’s not the moment let down our guards,’’ added Castex.

France has had over 2 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and nearly 50,000 deaths.

 

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