French markets reported a loss of over 1 billion dollars in deteriorating sales in the run-up to Christmas. The lower sales were due to the yellow vests protests that have held Paris on the edge for several weeks since November 17. The yellow vests activists are protesting against French President Emmanuel Macron’s economic policies demanding the President to increase wages and substantially lower taxes. The continuous protests that sparked violence in the French capital kept the major population off the street and caused a plunge in the sales during the holiday season. Everyone from luxury good sellers to small retailers was negatively impacted by the movement.
Police lockdowns and cases of vandalism further hurt the businesses dearly. The now month-long protests forced the Bank of France to slash its national growth assessment in half. The bank cut down the growth forecasts for the final quarter of the year from 0.4 to 0.2 citing the yellow vest protests as the reason behind the vanishing of $140 billion from the country’s GDP in 2018. The violent and elongated protests forced the French government to close down the key tourist attractions in Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. The move further harmed the retail stores based in shopping malls and the number of visitors treading shopping malls dropped substantially as compared to 2017. The last weekend of protests saw over 200 people being injured while a total of 1700 people were detained for participating in the protests. French President Emmanuel Macron finally gave in to the requests made during the yellow vest protest and scrapped the plan of hiking taxes on fuel prices. Along with scrapping the plan for increasing taxes on fuel, the French government also increased the minimum wage to €100 and announced special exemptions for people earning less than €2000 per month.
While retailers in France continue to bleed millions of dollars Amazon has been profiting from the ongoing unrest in the country. The American retail giants who account for more than 18% of the French e-commerce market have been seen their profits rise as people continue to check items off their list by choosing the e-commerce platform for shopping. Amazon has been offering shipping discounts and with Christmas approaching, the e-commerce giants have reduced their shipping costs to €1 irrespective of the minimum purchase made by customers. Furthermore, the company is offering a longer frame of time for customers to return products purchased from November 1st to December 31st.