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BUSINESS

France tells shops: No more wildcard sales

French retailers can only hold sales twice a year and for a maximum of six weeks after a new law came into effect on Monday banning the practice at any other time.

France tells shops: No more wildcard sales
Summer sales in Lyon. Photo: AFP

The new law reverses a 2008 decision allowing retailers two weeks of so-called “floating sales” to be held whenever shops saw fit.

Now the winter and summer sales will once again become the only times retailers are allowed to operate at a loss as they clear the decks and make room for new stock.

The two extra weeks of off-piste sales activity were brought in by Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre-right government in an attempt to get French people to part with their euros and boost consumption.

But a 2012 report from the Crédoc research centre and the French Institute of Fashion said the reform benefitted big retailers and brands at the expense of small stores, which could not compete with the marketing budgets of the major chains, mainly in the clothing sector.

The commerce minister at the time, Sylvia Pinel from the Radical Left Party, then moved to ditch the “floating sales” in line with the report's recommendation, paving the way for the new law. 

Not everybody welcomed Monday's death knell for off-season sales, however. A spokesman for the liberal Generation Libre think tank said President Francois Hollande was “killing growth”.

Anthony Audebert, head of digital marketing at Maison Barclay, a French record label owned by Universal Music, described the reform as “a pity”.

BUSINESS

French court hands Amazon €90,000-per-day fine over contracts

French authorities on Wednesday slapped a €90,000-per-day fine on e-commerce giant Amazon until it removes abusive clauses in its contracts with businesses using its platform to sell their goods.

French court hands Amazon €90,000-per-day fine over contracts

The anti-fraud Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes (DGCCRF) service said the online sales giant’s contracts with third-party sellers who use its Amazon.fr website contain “unbalanced” clauses.

“The company Amazon Services Europe did not comply completely with an injunction it was served and it is now subject to a fine of €90,000 per day of delay” in applying the changes, the DGCCRF said in a statement.

It also urged the platform to conform with European rules on equity and transparency for firms using online platforms.

Amazon said the order would harm consumers.

“The changes imposed by the DGCCRF will stop us from effectively protecting consumers and permit bad actors to set excessive prices or spam our clients with commercial offers,” the e-commerce giant said in a statement.

“We will comply with the DGCCRF’s decision but we absolutely do not understand it and we are challenging it in court,” responded the e-commerce giant in a statement.

Amazon said the clauses that the DGCCRF has ordered removed had, for example “prevented the appearance of exorbitant prices for mask and hydroalcoholic gel during the pandemic”.

In 2019, Amazon was fined €4 million for “manifestly unbalanced” contract clauses with third-party sellers on its site in a case brought by the DGCCRF.

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