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French government calls on giant retailers to delay Black Friday sales

PARIS (Reuters) - French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Wednesday called on supermarkets and on-line retailers to postpone the “Black Friday” sales shopping day due to take place on Nov. 27 as shops selling non-essential goods remained closed during lockdown.

FILE PHOTO: A deserted shopping centre is seen in Charenton-le-Pont near Paris during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, April 29, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Small shops, which were ordered to close by the government, have raised concerns they will suffer from competition from giant online retail companies such as Amazon AMZN.O that are allowed to operate and deliver goods during France's second nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

“Is next Friday really the right time to organise a Black Friday? My answer is no”, Le Maire told France’s upper house Senate.

He said he would ask supermarkets and on-line retailers to explore all options to delay the event, a discount shopping day that takes place worldwide, usually coinciding with the Friday of the U.S. Thanksgiving Weekend.

Amazon France’s boss said earlier on Wednesday that the group has seen a boost in activity in the range of 40%-50% during the country’s second lockdown.

The French government has come under pressure from shops and businesses to ease restrictions in time for the Christmas shopping period.

Valerie Pecresse, the politician in charge of the greater Paris region, said on Monday that the government should allow some shops to reopen for the Black Friday sales.

Meanwhile, health minister Olivier Veran said earlier this week that it was too early to claim victory over a resurgence in coronavirus infections even if recent data showed some encouraging signs.

Veran said that authorities were in the process of gradually regaining control over the COVID-19 pandemic but warned that it was too soon to let up.

President Emmanuel Macron is due to address the nation next week regarding the pandemic situation and restrictions in the country.

Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau and Matthieu Protard; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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