The ‘Fourth Act’ of massive protests against tax increase took place everywhere in France over the weekend. After the damage and looting from last week, authorities and shopkeepers had prepared themselves for this fourth Act. In Paris, many stores remained closed and barricaded their doors. In the provinces, although the confrontations with rioters were less intense, the access to many supermarkets was blocked by protesters.
Several shops actually had to close their doors early for lack of customers. Many French people had indeed taken their precautions by staying at home if they did not wish to join the demonstrations. In the town of Mâcon (Haute-Loire), the ‘yellow vests’ surrounded the parking lot of an Auchan supermarket again, forcing it to close its doors shortly after 3pm. This decision was made to ensure the safety of customers and staff. The few people who were in the supermarket at the time had to be evacuated through the emergency exits.
This closing of the shops right in the holiday season is a disaster for the French economy. An average shopping center has approximately 130 employees. Deprived of their work, they find themselves in technical unemployment.
“We have asked the Director for a partial discharge of our staff, which counts approximately 100 full-time employees,” announced Julien Penot, manager of a large supermarket in the Haute-Loire, which “delivery trucks have not been able to access since Tuesday due to a blockage, maintained day and night by the ‘yellow vests’’ protesters.”
Service-stations also have supply problems. The impact is huge on customers, but also on the professionals who can no longer deliver the products. “We obviously do not have any more fresh products but the canned goods and pasta shelves are also empty,” said the manager of an Intermarché supermarket.
The managers of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) hope that the movement will end in order to resume business as usual in the coming days before Christmas.
The Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, announced that the ‘yellow vests’ movement will have considerable impact on the French economy. “We must prepare ourselves for a new slowdown in economic growth,” he declared to Reuters on Saturday during a visit to some vandalized shops and restaurants.
Sources : Reuters, News-24.fr and lejsl.com