Paris, December 1st. Barricades and stun grenades, cobbles thrown and riot guns: it’s beginning to look a lot like a revolution in the capital, not Christmas. It is the 3rd Saturday in a row French citizens are taking to the streets to protest French president Emmanuel Macron’s politics. “Barricades are in our DNA”, says a gilet jaune protester. From French retailers and tourism stakeholders’ point of view, this might be a little more difficult to recognise.
Bruno Le Maire, the French Economy and Finance minister, already mentions a -15% to -25% loss depending on the sectors. On December 1st, French shopping malls showed a -14% decrease in visitor numbers. According to the Fédération des enterprises du commerce et de la distribution, the organisation gathering French retailers and distributors, the losses could amount to several billion euros; on the back of sales decrease, pillages and necessary reparation works. Similarly, hotel bookings have seen a -15% to 20% decrease on average and restaurants’ revenue decreased between -20% to -50%.
Paris was the hardest impacted. Violent climax located nearby several shopping hotspots of the capital led many stores to close their doors earlier or not open at all, including the Galeries Lafayette, Champs Elysées shops and famous Place Vendôme jewellery stores. On November 24th, the French capital saw its A number of countries offer VAT/GST refunds to international... More transactions decrease by -45% compared to the same date a year before according to Global Blue. A week later, with protests coming to a climax, the French capital registered another sharp decline of its A number of countries offer VAT/GST refunds to international... More transactions, -64% compared to the 1st of December 2017. Although fewer riots were declared on Saturday December 8th in Paris, transactions show a -97% compared to December 8th 2017.
The effects of the movement are a little less visible outside of Paris, in provincial towns, with the 1st week of the protest showing the steepest sales in store decline at -22% compared to November 17th, 2017.
These are early data and will need to be revaluated in the coming weeks, once the protest is over.
Early November, the gilets jaunes movement started as a citizen protest against the rise of tax on diesel and petrol planned by Emmanuel Macron to encourage the transition towards green energies. Numerous other grievances were later grafted to the initial cause, such as the raise of the minimum wage or the roll back of tax cuts for the wealthy.