November 23, 2018 / 7:40 AM / a month ago

French retailers warn anti-fuel tax protests could derail Black Friday

A demonstrator wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher fuel prices, holds a French flag as they block the access to the Total biodiesel refinery at La Mede near Fos-sur-Mer, France, November 22, 2018. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

PARIS (Reuters) - French retailers warned on Friday that protests across the country against rising fuel taxes and President Emmanuel Macron’s economic policies could derail the crucial Christmas shopping season that starts with Black Friday discounts.

On Saturday November 17, more than 280,000 demonstrators took part in the protests all over the country. Some of them kept on protesting and blocking roads since then. The protesters, known as the “yellow vests”, are planning to hold a large demonstration in Paris this coming Saturday.

Jacques Creyssel, the head of the French Retail Federation (FCD), told RTL radio station that French retailers’ daily revenue fell 35 percent because of the Saturday protests. Store footfall fell 47 percent that day as protesters blocked motorways, sparking major logjams.

“We have a true problem as some stores have been closed for a week now because of the blockades. One week without revenue is dramatic for a company. We are asking for free access for our staff and customers to the stores and the warehouses,” he said.

“We are at the beginning of the Christmas season, today it’s Black Friday, a crucial time for retailers. If retailers cannot work and customers cannot shop, it’s bound to have a major impact on employment,” he warned.

Back Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, was so named because spending in the United States would surge and retailers would traditionally begin to turn a profit for the year - moving from the red ink into the black.

The Black Friday discount sales day starts on November 23 and will be followed three days later by Cyber Monday.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Editing by Inti Landauro

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