Paris attacks disrupt start of French winter sales

Tue Jan 13, 2015 9:46am EST
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By Dominique Vidalon and Pascale Denis

PARIS (Reuters) - France's winter clearance sales have got off to a slow start as the nation mourns last week's deadly shootings in Paris.

Retailers interviewed by Reuters reported revenues down as much as a quarter during the first of the six weeks of sales.

Store groups, struggling with a stalled economy, have been banking on the sales to revive their fortunes.

"Shopping is not on people's minds," said retail analyst Aude de Moussac at research firm Kurt Salmon. "There are (security) fears and shoppers won't move unless they badly need something."

Seventeen victims and three Islamist militant attackers died in three days of shooting that began on Wednesday Jan. 7, the first day of the winter sales. The following Saturday and Sunday were marked by mass commemoration marches across the country.

Jean-Marc Genis, head of the FEH clothing retail federation, which represents chains including Etam, Zara and H&M, said revenue was down 5 percent year-on-year in the first three days of the sales.

There was a "very sharp" fall in store traffic and revenue on Sunday Jan. 11, when at least 3.7 million people took part in marches throughout France.

Small independent stores were badly hit, and are likely to suffer more than businesses with operations abroad.   Continued...

People walk past a clothing store window with discount signs in Strasbourg, during the first day of winter sales in France, January 7, 2015.   REUTERS/Vincent Kessler