Transport workers on strike in Paris caused disruptions to sales for business owners over the holidays, cutting sales by as much as half, they say.
The backlash against France’s pension reform, advanced by President Emanual Macron, has dragged on since fall.
Store owners, such as Emile Sebbag, who owns two clothing stores in the area, are agonizing and deliberating on how to make ends meet as the strike goes on. Sebbag told Reuters that the start of the winter sales season Wednesday (Jan. 8) would not be likely to make up for the poor sales last Christmas. During the holiday season, Sebbag said he had only taken home about half of what he’d normally expected to. He said it had been “hell since December” with the chaos as people try to travel right now.
Sebbag told Reuters that one of his stores, where he sells hoodies, jeans and handbags by companies like Guess and Replay, is particularly reliant on people commuting to get there. As it’s located in the basement of Paris’ Les Halles shopping center, which is built around a major local train and metro terminal, commuters make up a large chunk of his business there.
Macron’s plan to reform the pension system has led to strikes that compounded on the protests by “Yellow Vest” demonstrators last year, only giving businesses more problems. Sales for Paris shops during Christmas were down 30 percent to 50 percent in December, the time when many of them earn large chunks of their annual incomes.
And the effects have rippled outward to the rest of the economy, as tourists are booking trips elsewhere, commuters struggle to get to work and consumers shun local shops. Hotels and restaurants have also felt the squeeze of the floundering economy.
Smaller companies like Sebbag’s are feeling the immediate effect of the protests, large manufacturers like Hermes also rely on Paris as a major shopping hub.
Macron has tried to offset the “Yellow Vest” protests by announcing wage increases and tax cuts, but other economic conditions and policies of his have fueled further protests.