By Dominique Vidalon and Matthieu Protard
PARIS (Reuters) – Amazon said on Thursday it would postpone its “Black Friday” discount shopping sales in France to Dec.4, joining other retailers in delaying the event amid a nationwide lockdown slated to last until Dec. 1.
“Today we have decided to delay the date of Black Friday if this can help shopkeepers reopen before Dec. 1. This year the Black Friday will take place on Dec. 4,” Amazon France Chief Executive Frederic Duval told TF1 television.
Amazon, which has seen sales surge under lockdown, is now joining France’s Carrefour, Europe’s biggest retailer, and French retailer Leclerc in agreeing to the delay.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called on supermarkets and online retailers on Wednesday to postpone Black Friday, which runs from Nov. 27 to Nov. 29, as shops selling non-essential goods would have to remain closed during lockdown.
Duval had said earlier this week that the end of November was a very important time for Christmas shopping and it would be perfect if stores selling non-essential items were allowed to reopen on Nov. 27.
Le Maire is due to meet retailers on Friday at 1400 GMT to finalise a possible agreement on a Black Friday delay.
France entered a second national lockdown on Oct. 30 and President Emmanuel Macron has said it would last at least four weeks. Curbs include the closure of non-essential stores, restaurants and bars.
But with recent data showing France on track to rein in a surge in coronavirus infections, the government is under pressure from shops and businesses to ease restrictions in time for the crucial Christmas shopping season.
Smaller shops are struggling to compete with large retailers and online giants such as Amazon that are allowed to operate and deliver goods during the lockdown.
The finance ministry said in a statement on Thursday that a one-week delay in Black Friday sales would help “insure shops reopen in France under maximum safety conditions”.
A Carrefour spokeswoman said Chief Executive Alexandre Bompard spoke with Le Maire by telephone on Thursday and agreed to suspend its Black Friday operation on Nov. 27-29.
Carrefour’s biggest local rival Leclerc also said it was ready to postpone its Black Friday event.
Macron is due to address the nation next week about the pandemic and restrictions in the country.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Gwenaelle Barzic; Writing by Matthieu Protard; Editing by Jan Harvey, Kirsten Donovan, David Clarke and Tom Brown)