PARIS — Ongoing strikes in France are set to intensify Tuesday, adding to concerns the disruption could further weigh on retail business during the crucial holiday shopping season.
Transportation strikes have crippled the French capital since Dec. 5, when more than 800,000 people took to the streets to protest the government’s planned pension reforms. Further demonstrations are scheduled to take place in Paris Tuesday, and in a rerun of the Dec. 5 events, local authorities have called for the closure of stores and restaurants along the main boulevards in Eastern parts of the city.
In a sign conditions are worsening for retail businesses, the national association of shopping centers, the CNCC, said last week it had seen a 12 percent decline in traffic in malls in the region surrounding Paris, compared to last year, when yellow-vest protests weighed heavily on business. Traffic had declined 6 percent at the outset of the strikes.
The French textile sector is already struggling, with the country’s sales of clothing and textiles down 1.3 percent in value terms in the first nine months of the year, according to the Institut Français de la Mode.
The finance ministry last week has pledged to bring back measures used last year to help the tourism sector cope with business lost to disruption from the yellow-vest protest movement, which took a violent turn, and even led to the shutdown of the city.
The yellow vests were back this November to mark the movement’s first anniversary, taking to the Place d’Italie, on the southern edge of the capital, and prompting the closure of a local mall. The involvement of the so-called black blocs, a group of anarchists and anticapitalist vandals, added to tensions.
The Dec. 5 protests put businesses on edge, reigniting worries that images of tear gas, burning debris and skirmishes with police would spook high-spending tourists and locals.