PARIS — The French government on Friday declared it was postponing Black Friday, as it moved to quell a nationwide rebellion by shopkeepers who say that Amazon has been stealing business from them during France’s coronavirus lockdown.
Black Friday, the U.S. import that has been embraced by European retailers as the quasi-official kickoff to the Christmas shopping season, will be delayed by a week in France, to Dec. 4, after the government wrested an agreement from Amazon and the country’s biggest retailers to delay their discounts.
The move is intended to level the playing field for booksellers, clothing shops and “nonessential” businesses that were forced to close their doors on Oct. 30 after a second national lockdown was imposed, propelling consumers to online sites, including Amazon.
Under the accord, big retailers agreed to put off their Black Friday sales promotions on the condition that the government reauthorizes the reopening of small retailers by then. Shopkeepers have agitated since the new lockdown orders took effect to be able to restart business.
“Let us open or we will die,” Yohann Petiot, the director general of France’s Alliance du Commerce, a trade group for businesses, told government officials this week.
But the finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, did not say on Friday when shops and other nonessential businesses would be allowed to resume operations. While the current lockdown has helped curb an alarming new outbreak of coronavirus cases, French health authorities have cautioned that any reopenings must meet strict safety protocols.
Stores “will be able to open as soon as health indicators improve,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said Friday.