Paris

PARIS — Transport strikes disrupting train traffic in Paris continue to ease up gradually, but are set to continue at least through Tuesday, when the Paris Fashion Week men’s shows kick off.

The French couture federation, Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, is doubling up electric van shuttle service between shows, and offering special priority taxi service to accredited press arriving at the airport from Milan on Tuesday afternoon.

The Paris metro system, the RATP, has for weeks recommended people avoid the public transportation system, with only two automatically run lines maintaining normal traffic levels, and other lines operating fewer trains than usual, resulting in crowded trains.

Transport strikes have crippled the French capital since Dec. 5,  day when thousands of demonstrators hit the streets to protest against planned pension reforms by French President Emmanuel Macron’s government. Unions and politicians have struggled to negotiate an agreement since.

Retailers are fretting about the strike’s impact on business — just as the sale season hits full swing. In accordance with French regulations, sales in the country run from Jan. 8 to Feb. 4.

Last week, the Alliance du Commerce, an association of retailers and apparel brands, made an appeal for traffic to return to normal, citing the importance of the period for business.

“We have to save the sales,” said the association’s director, Yohann Petiot. 

“It is urgent — after businesses sustained heavy losses, at Christmastime and for more than one year — to allow the sales to take place smoothly by reestablishing normal traffic and ensuring the security of clients and businesses,” he said.

Marches in December set the city on edge, bringing back memories of the violent yellow-vest protests that took place a year ago, and prompted local authorities to order the closure of stores and restaurants along the main boulevards in parts of the city where demonstrations were to take place.  

The finance ministry pledged to bring back measures used last year to help certain sectors of the economy cope with business lost due to disruption. 

The French textile sector was already struggling before the strikes hit, with the country’s sales of clothing and textiles down 1.3 percent in value terms in the first nine months of last year, according to the Institut Français de la Mode.

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