Locked-down France inches toward ‘Black Friday’ postponement

Amazon’s director in France floated the possibility Friday of postponing its “Black Friday” discount shopping promotion by a week amid broad concerns that French shops shuttered by the nation’s coronavirus lockdown are hemorrhaging business and could be hurt further if they miss out on the consumer splurge.

Mindful of the economic suffering felt by real-world storeowners but also of the health risks of prematurely easing the virus lockdown, the government was working to broker a deal to delay “Black Friday” until shuttered shops have been allowed to reopen, so they can also profit from consumer spending on cut-price goods ahead of Christmas.

France’s economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, was working to get agreement from the e-commerce sector and supermarket chains to delay “Black Friday” by a week to December 4, by which time real-world stores might have emerged from lockdown.

Le Maire’s ministry said supermarket operators and e-commerce sites are looking “favorably” at a possible postponement, “in a spirit of responsibility.”

More talks were scheduled for Friday afternoon, “with a view to finalizing an agreement,” the ministry said.

The director of Amazon France, Frederic Duval, told France Info radio on Friday before the meeting that the e-commerce distributor is ready to sign up to a delay.

The focus on “Black Friday” is part of what has become a wider debate in France about the lopsided effects of lockdowns, with businesses deemed “nonessential” forced to close while some big distributors and e-commerce sites have thrived as consumers have shopped online instead.

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