Originating in the United States, Black Friday promotions have managed to conquer French storefronts and, in just a few years, quickly found a home in French society.
According to the Federation of e-commerce and distance selling called Fevad, the overall turnover of online commerce in France jumped 69% during Black Friday promotions in 2017. The 2019 edition is expected to generate 5.9 million euros ($6.5 million) of consumer spending.
Earlier this week, French MPs gave the green light in committee to a ban on Black Friday promotional campaigns. Besides a “disastrous environmental record”, the amendment denounces Black Friday's “misleading communication vis-à-vis consumers”, which give consumers the impression of profiting from sales even though, in many cases, they are not. In France, sales periods are framed by law. According to a French consumer federation cited in the amendment, Black Friday shoppers only benefit an average of less than 2%.
The amendment essentially equates Black Friday to "aggressive commercial practices" which is punishable by two years imprisonment and a maximum fine of 300,000 euros ($330,000).
The reactions from professional syndicates was immediate. President of Fevad François Momboisse finds the amendment “ridiculous” saying that it prevents people benefiting from promotions for Christmas shopping, he told local media BFMTV. Macroeconomist Erwann Tison fears that the amendment will disproportionately penalize small French businesses since bigger e-commerce companies won’t fall under the law. Some suggest it would be better to educate consumers against waste instead of forbidding the commercial practice of Black Friday.
Yet, some stores are already leading their campaign against the commercial event. This month, 600 French brands created an anti-Black Friday collective to “Make Friday Green Again." The movement Youth For Climate is calling for a "Block Friday" demonstration on Nov. 29 in Bordeaux and other cities
This amendment to the Parliament’s anti-waste bill will next be examined in the assembly on Dec. 9.