Les petits commerces, oubliés de « Soldes by Paris »

Des circuits branché, insolite, chic, romantique et créatif… Voilà comment la capitale met en scène les soldes 2008 pour attirer les touristes ! « Soldes by Paris » est lancée à grands renforts de communication par la Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris. Mais si les grands magasins en tirent largement bénéfice, pour les commerces de proximité, en revanche, les effets attendus tardent à se faire sentir… Ecoutez plutôt !

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Pouvoir d’achat at a deadlock: “Euro is the reason, Sarko can nothing”

It is not even 7.30 am this Wednesday and dozens of shoppers are already queuing in front of the still closed Boulevard Haussmann grands magasins, in Paris. They are all looking forward to launching the winter sales and getting the best deals, right from the opening at 8.00. It could be a lot of fun but this year, the sales period looks gloomier than usually. “My budget is tight since cost of living has seriously increased recently. I plan to spend only 200 to 300 euros to buy clothes for my wife”, regrets Zuhair, a 36-year-old waiter.

For the past few months, according to polls, the French’s main preoccupation has been their pouvoir d’achat (purchasing power or so) they feel it has steadily decreased. As his strategy on this hot topic was put into questions at a news conference held yesterday, President Nicolas Sarkozy admitted his room of manoeuvre to turn the situation over was rather limited. Whereas he has been being presented himself as the president of pouvoir d’achat so far, Sarkozy ironically reacted asking journalist whether he should “empty public treasury that was already empty” or “command companies whilst he had no power on them”.

Public opinion is said growingly angry at presidential action, yet Sarkozy’s powerlessness appears obvious on the ground. “I do not think he can anything. There is no miracle drug! Instead, solution comes from individual behaviour: one should work longer and make one’s best to enjoy a ascending career”, Zuhair suggests. French born Filipino Teofila, aged 58, granted with a 150-euro budget for sales, thinks the same. “Food prices go up, notably meat, but that the way it is. There is nothing to do”. Really? “Oh yes, we should turn back to the franc, but it is impossible!”

On the sidewalk this morning, the European single currency, introduced in 2002, is unanimously condemned as the true responsible for the melting wallet. “I remember I could last one week with 500 francs. Now, 100 euros sounds to me like 15, I spend it in one single day”, observes Inzatou, a 32-year-old social worker, mother of four children for whom each end of month is strenuous. “I do not understand why the media emphasize so much about pouvoir d’achat this days! I have not seen any change recently: prices really started soaring when the euro came in, that’s it”.

Whereas everyone blames the euro, there is nobody to consider getting rid of it. “Leaving the Eurozone would be a fantasy. But I obviously do not see what has to be done. Increasing salaries? If prices follow the rise, it will be useless!” believes Philippe, a rural dweller from the Tours region, aged 39, who always make the trip to Paris for sales but enjoy living outside the city. “As I live in a small village in countryside, I am less tempted of spending money than people here. I guess life is very expensive for Parisians who are attracted to come out anytime.”

Let us all emigrate to rural areas? The situation looks inextricable, no one having an idea in mind about the way to resolve the problem. “Sarkozy is at power, I am sure he can make prices go down if he has the will. I have no clue how but he can”, affirms Inzatou, who is alone to want to believe in a political outcome. But all hurry to forget their diminished pouvoir d’achat as a countdown announces the imminent opening of the doors, before rushing inside the shops. “If their boss knew they were already here at 8…” makes fun a white-collar passing by with his suit-dressed colleague laughing.