Amazon and other major retailers have agreed to push Black Friday back a week in France to allow physical retailers to take part safely in the pre-Christmas sale bonanza and potentially reopen a few days earlier than planned.
Non-essential physical retailers are due to reopen after their second lockdown in France on 1 December, just after Black Friday on 27 November. France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire had previously said he was reluctant to agree to allow stores to re-open in 1 December in the midst of a major promotional event for fear of crowds descending on stores.
However, Amazon and other major French retailers including department store group Galeries Lafayette, have agreed to push the event back to 4 December in the hope that stores will be allowed to reopen slightly earlier on 27 or 28 November.
“Today, as many other French retailers and following the government’s recommendation, we decided to postpone Black Friday if this enables retailers to re-open before December 1,” Frederic Duval, general manager at Amazon France, said in a statement.
“What’s important is that we reopen our stores. If this priority comes with a postponement of Black Friday, we won’t argue with it,” Nicolas Houze, chief executive officer of Galeries Lafayette to French business news channel BFM Business.
French president Emmanuel Macron is due to address the nation on Tuesday to reveal plans for re-opening parts of the economy after they were locked down on 30 October.
Small stores were widely expected to be allowed on re-open 1 December, with florists already having been given the green light to begin selling Christmas trees from next Friday.
However there had been a question mark over larger stores due to Black Friday. Bruno Le Maire, however, has praised the decision by Amazon and other major retailers, which include large supermarkets such as Carrefour.
It is anticipated that stores may now be allowed to re-open but with strict curbs on the number of shoppers allowed in at any one time.
In England non-essential retail is due to reopen on 3 December with some retailers targeting 5 December as a reopen date, though the Government has yet to confirm thi
Stores in Wales have reopened after a two-week firebreak lockdown to curb infections in the country, however stores in large parts of Scotland have just closed down again for two weeks with Northern Ireland also bringing in a two-week shut-down from 27 November.
There had been immense public and political pressure in France to postpone Black Friday with 30,000 people signing a petition to threaten to boycott Amazon if the event went ahead and politicians, such as Le Maire, suggesting reopening could be delayed if it went ahead as planned.
In the UK no such pressure appears to be in evidence as of yet with Black Friday discounts already in place across many retailers with online sales expected to reach record levels during the event. UK retailers are gearing up for a huge increase in online sales of 35%-45% during the Black Friday trading period (23-30 November), according to the latest forecast from online retail association IMRG.