New rule change for consumers. They will no longer be able to go to large shopping centers for anything other than food shopping. “As of this Sunday, non-food shopping centers with an area of more than 20,000 square meters, those which promote brewing the most, will be closed., announced, Friday January 29, the Prime Minister, Jean Castex. And from Monday, gauges will be reinforced for all large surfaces ”. Syears to specify by what extent, nor until when these large commercial complexes will be closed.
“Distressed” Friday evening just after these statements, Jacques Ehrmann, President of the National Council of Shopping Centers (CNCC) and Managing Director at Altarea Cogedim, denounces “A gadget measure”. “We are instrumentalised”, he blurted out. Mr. Ehrmann says to himself above all “Discouraged after spending hours explaining to the government that shopping centers over 20,000 square meters are the best equipped with the technical means to enforce the gauges. We were even ready to go to 1 customer every 16 square meters against 1 for 8 m2 currently, and to accept the immediate closure of any center that would be caught failing to respect the rules ”.
Of the 835 shopping centers in France, half have a surface area of over 20,000 m², specifies the CNCC. “Often the hypermarket is already 10,000 square meters, explains Mr. Ehrmann. And what is food? A chocolatier? A wine merchant? It’s a reissue of that essentials and non-essentials joke. We may decide to close some centers because it is extremely expensive in personnel, security guards and cleaning to open only half of them. “ His only consolation: the fact that “February is the weakest month of the year in terms of attendance and turnover”. It represents half of the average activity over a month, when November and December count double.
“No prior consultation”
An equally abrupt announcement for Yohann Petiot, director general of the Alliance du commerce. “Employees who learn this evening, in the middle of the sales period, that their store will be closed from Sunday, and without knowing how long it will last”, he says, nevertheless “Relieved of the absence of generalized containment”.
Between 300,000 and 400,000 employees should be affected, assesses Emmanuel Le Roch, general delegate of Procos, a federation which brings together more than 300 brands. He worries about the lack of visibility, “When we see that in restaurants and sports halls, we once said that they were closing and that they have not reopened since”.
The hypothesis of a closure of shopping centers of more than 20,000 m² had arisen as a rumor among professionals since Thursday, without them having been consulted by Bercy, as is usually the case. CNCC “Is indignant at a decision which has not been the subject of any prior consultation, announced with taking effect within 48 hours and very imprecise as to its scope of application”, indicates the federation in a press release.
“This will reopen the very complicated issue of rents between landlords and traders”, warns Mr. Petiot. “The State will have to compensate part of the damage suffered by raising the aid ceilings”, estimates Mr. Le Roch.
A subject that was to be discussed during the telephone meeting scheduled for Saturday, January 30 at noon between the players in mass distribution, trade and representatives of professional organizations and the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire.