The government has to face a new controversy: the “Black Friday” operation scheduled for November 27th. While the discontent continues to mount in the face of online sales giants like Amazon, this vast promotional operation, organized a few weeks before Christmas, would escape businesses closed due to confinement. La Dépêche answers four questions to better understand the origins of this controversy.
What is Black Friday?
The operation of Black Friday or literally “black Friday” comes from the United States. This is a period of exceptional promotions, taking place one month before Christmas. In France, the date of Black Friday seems to have been chosen a bit at random, this year the event is scheduled for November 27. In the United States, Black Friday is set for the day after Thanksgiving, a holiday as important as Christmas to Americans, falling on the 4th Thursday in November.
In recent years, “Black Friday” has gained momentum in France. Initially focused on online sales sites, the event moved to downtown stores, allowing stores to record significant revenue a few weeks before the end of the year holidays.
Last year, there were just over 56 million bank card transactions in France on that day, an absolute record. This represents several billion euros in turnover.
What is the controversy surrounding this commercial operation?
In full confinement, “non-essential” shops are mostly closed in France. If Black Friday is maintained on November 27, this concretely means that only the giants of online commerce and supermarkets will be able to sell their products. An additional blow for small traders or managers of independent shops, already very upset against e-commerce giants like Amazon.
For Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy, this operation “does not make sense in the current circumstances”. As a result, the executive tries to persuade the open establishments to show solidarity. Questioned in the Senate during the questioning session to the government, the minister announced that he was going to ask “all economic players, whether large-scale distribution or players in the digital trade” to “shift” the promotional operation Black Friday, scheduled for November 27.
Why is Black Friday in the sights of associations?
“[Le ministre de l’Economie] must resolve the major fundamental problem, that is to say, to frame this day of bogus promotions, “said Alain Bazot president of UFC-Que Choisir this Thursday morning on France Info. “Black Friday is not at all supervised, we have conducted investigations into this operation and it is amazing!”, Protested the defender of consumers. He claims, with supporting evidence, that prices are inflated just before Black Friday to announce record promotions. “Black Friday does not guarantee good deals, the prices are crazy. We use the consumer desires of consumers but with bogus promotions”, insists Alain Bazot. “Rather than shrugging on the date, [le ministre de l’Economie] has the powers to really act, he adds. We need to better supervise Black Friday and integrate the Community directive on this point “.
First solution: cancel the operation. But the major problem, as Bercy has been repeating for several weeks, consists in the fact that it is not possible to prohibit this promotional operation.
If the government wants to put an end to this “unfair competition” that small businesses denounce, it would be necessary to reopen these businesses which were forced to lower the curtain on October 30. In a statement, the presidents of the right-wing and central departments called for a reopening of shops from November 27 for “Black Friday”. “Local merchants will suffer an even more glaring injustice if only online businesses have the opportunity to take advantage of it,” they wrote.
But we can imagine, this vast commercial operation, which is similar to 24-hour sales, would be “incompatible” in this period of the coronavirus epidemic. With the crowds massed on the shelves, a few weeks before Christmas, the barrier measures may be impossible to apply, causing a possible outbreak of contamination.
For the time being, Barbara Pompili, Minister of Ecological Transition and Elisabeth Borne, Minister of Labor support Bruno Le Maire’s proposal to shift this Black Friday to better days, that is to say after confinement.
With only eight days of the promotional operation, the subject has not been decided.