CANNES, France (Reuters) - Hollywood executives are out in force again at the world’s biggest film festival but with the dollar near to record lows against the euro, they are not spending as freely at the boutiques along the Cannes shoreline.
“Americans come and they’re surprised by the prices,” said Sander Smits, who runs a flower shop in the Cannes town centre. “When you see thirty-five or forty-five euros, it’s a lot more in dollars,” he said.
The uncertain picture for the U.S. economy has helped slash the value of the dollar against the euro, which is currently trading at over $1.55.
As a result, the high prices charged by many shops and restaurants during the festival have become more forbidding, even for an industry used to big spending.
“American clients are finding that coming to Europe for the festival costs 30 percent more than last year,” said Pascal Brun, managing director of the Majestic, one of a string of luxury hotels that line the Cannes Croisette.
A 35-euro bunch of flowers, such as the one Smits referred to, would cost an American visitor more than $55, and many are thinking twice about restaurant and bar bills.
“People are still entertaining because they need to be here,” Brun said. “But they’re spending differently. Instead of inviting 50 people for cocktails, they’ll have the same reception but they’ll only invite 30 people.”
Cannes taxi drivers, who regularly grumble about the traffic chaos caused by festival goers scurrying to and from screenings, long lines of limousines and cordoned-off streets, may not mind, but for others, the impact has been serious.
Julie Sisk, who runs the American Pavilion, a venue that holds events and provides Web access for members, said the situation was “horrible.”
She said that while pre-festival registration was about the same as in previous years, far fewer parties and special events had been booked at the Pavilion and the Americans who were coming in seemed to be feeling pinched.
One of those people, Washington, D.C.-based entertainment attorney Joanne Cassidy, said she had been undecided about whether or not to make this year’s festival due solely to the exchange rate.
She was finally persuaded to come to maintain contacts and business relationships but she said she was feeling the squeeze on a trip on which her costs were up by 15-20 percent.
“It definitely impacts everything I do,” she said. “There are fewer American lawyers here and almost none from New York.”
Even so, it would be wrong to imagine that the weaker dollar had ended recreational shopping altogether and some businesses said they were weathering the storm relatively comfortably.
“Our shop deals in well-known brands, so clients know what to expect when they come in,” said Stephane Cerulli, director of Trabaud, a designer shop near to the Palais des Festivals.
“The euro being higher or lower could well affect the way some people spend but in general we haven’t felt it too much. We’re doing good business.”
Additional reporting by Bob Tourtelette; writing by James Mackenzie
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