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Why France might be banning Black Friday

The Local France
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Why France might be banning Black Friday
Will 2019 be the last Black Friday in France? Photo: AFP

This year's Black Friday shopping discounts day may be the last in France if a group of MPs and environmental campaigners have their way.


MPs in the French parliament have voted in favour of an amendment proposing a ban on the day when shops - particularly online retailers - offer big discounts in an attempt to boost pre-Christmas spending.

The amendment to France's new anti-waste bill was proposed by independent MP Delphine Batho and although MPs agreed it in committee it is still a long way from becoming law.

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Sales in France are strictly regulated and there are only two periods of the year - one in summer and one just after Christmas - when shops are allowed to offer discounts. The sales periods are set by the government and this year the January sales have been cut from six weeks to four.

The amendment aims to define Black Friday as a sale, which would then have to abide by the rules on sales and the set sales period.

It has been backed by Environment Minister Elizabeth Borne, who told French TV show BFM Business: "We cannot both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and call for a consumer frenzy. Above all, we must consume better."

Black Friday in France was already under pressure with more than 200 brands declaring this year that they would boycott the day, which they say damages both the environment and workers' rights.

Nicolas Rohr, founder of the collective and head of Faguo, an environmentally friendly fashion company with a turnover of €13 million, said: “From the consumer's point of view, this may be an opportunity to get a good deal but Black Friday makes jobs precarious by not paying manufacturers, brands and stores the right amount. 

“It also contributes to climate change by encouraging overproduction.”

Several environmental groups are also calling for a boycott, pointing to the damaging contribution to climate change from over consumption.

Black Friday was launched in France seven years ago but took a while to take off, with many French consumers who were used to the traditional January and summer sales periods being left a little confused by the offers of huge discounts in late November.

However, according to a RetailMeNot study, Black Friday this year is expected to generate €5.9 billion in France, an increase of 4.1 percent compared to 2018.

Delphine Batho added: "Black Friday uses the legal vagueness surrounding promotions, but it is a campaign that is similar to sales: you have to sell stock, advertise... The purpose of the amendment is therefore to recognise that this is an aggressive commercial practice."

Businesses found guilty of breaking France's strict sales and discounting laws face a maximum penalty of a €300,000 fine and a two year jail term for bosses.




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Anonymous 2019/11/30 11:54
I like the idea of banning Black Friday. I have been coming to France for twenty years, particularly for the great January sales. Black Friday will eventually be the same as it is in the states; a way to really artificially raise the cost of items then announce a sale price later. The mark-up is ridiculous allowing the consumer to think they are really getting a sale when they are not. The French have the right idea, ban it.
Anonymous 2019/11/29 08:07
Rupert that's correct but a lot of braindead so called activists don't agree with you and unfortunately Macron's Government seems to be full of them.
Anonymous 2019/11/28 19:04
Commerce is what all countries depend upon. It is from manufacture and commerce that taxes are raised and people get a living. Stupid remarks such as 'mindless consumerism' fare badly with families who are taxed to the hilt in France, are able to buy household necessities at a discounted price. France becomes more like a totalitarian state every day.
Anonymous 2019/11/28 17:58
Not a strange policy in the slightest, no. We're trashing the planet and allowing for a day when mindless consumerism hits disgusting heights is utter lunacy. You can't pledge to help save the environment and send the message that this kind of thing is ok. The French seem to be making the right choice.
Anonymous 2019/11/28 09:20
When will the French Government wake up to the fact that events like this generate sales so therefore generate tax for the Government's coffers. They seem to take great pleasure in stopping the consumer from buying what and when they want. A very strange policy indeed.

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