PARIS – French retailing received another blow on Friday night, when FrancePrime Minister Jean Castex has revealed measures to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which includes the temporary closure of non-essential department stores, such as department stores and malls, from Sunday.
At a press conference held on Friday after a meeting of the health defense council at the Elysee Palace, Castex said that despite the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew now in effect across the country, the COVID-19 situation is “worrying”, with large numbers of people hospitalized and in intensive care units, and as new variants of the virus circulate in the country.
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Rather than lock France again, as has been the case twice since March, the government has chosen to put new measures in place.
Retailers that do not sell food and that are larger than 2,000 square meters, or 21,525 square feet, will be closed starting Sunday.
In Paris, this includes the Galeries Lafayette lighthouse on Boulevard Haussmann, Bon Marché, Westfield Forum des Halles and BHV-Marais, among others. Across France, around 400 shopping centers and 25,000 stores will be affected.
At large brands that remain open, gauges such as the number of people authorized in the store at a time and their distance to be respected will be reinforced.
New travel restrictions also come into effect. Entry and exit from France – from or to a country outside the European Union – will be prohibited except for important reasons, for example.
“Whatever the cost – loans guaranteed by the State, solidarity funds, partial unemployment – will of course apply to all employees and companies concerned”, specified the Castex.
The French government’s 100 billion euro stimulus plan aims to rebuild the economy and create unemployment.
France has already experienced two closures – starting in March and November – and their impacts continue to trickle down to fashion and beauty sellers.
In November, for example, Spring department store unveiled a massive restructuring plan that will result in store closings and hundreds of layoffs. While Galeries Lafayette The group’s department store division is restructuring its Paris headquarters, which will likely lead to around 185 job cuts.
Retailers in the French capital had already faced a series of challenges before the COVID-19 pandemic put international tourism on hold and resulted in temporary store closures. The industry has become dependent on deep-pocketed visitors, especially from Asia, for much of its growth, but yellow vest protests, transport strikes and terrorist attacks have severely disrupted business in recent years.
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