“The reopening is more a matter of days than weeks,” said Bruno Lemaire, Minister of the Economy at the microphone of Cnews Monday. These days a lot of traders are counting them, as the month of December approaches. A fateful month for many.
Normally, the approach of the end of the year celebrations carries the promise of a good month for some, an essential month for others. This year, and after a first period of confinement, it will be essential for many, according to the federations of traders we interviewed.
In some businesses, a quarter of turnover is made in December
The declarations made to the tax authorities provide valuable information on the weight of this fateful month.
The situation varies considerably depending on the type of business. As an example, and not surprisingly, toy stores made 28% of their sales in December. “It is also 70% of the profitability of the year”, according to Sébastien Maissin, customer director at PicWicToys.
Bakers, who have been able to continue to run their ovens, could also suffer from a lower attendance in the streets, they who achieve 23% of their turnover in December.
Besides these end-of-year champions, December is also a month that counts twice for booksellers, perfumers, jewelers, fishmongers and wine merchants. In recent years, the only sector that appears to have seen sales decline in December is IT and electronics. The emergence of “Black Friday” and the multiplication of sales throughout the year have a lot to do with it, again according to INSEE.
Compensate for the losses recorded this year
For booksellers, the first two months of confinement, “it’s 92% of the figure” of those months gone up in smoke, according to Morgane Le Guillou of the Syndicat de la librairie française. From January 1 to October 31, “activity is down 8.1%”, according to the Bookstore Observatory, created at the initiative of the union.
And that’s without counting on the second confinement. “It would have taken an average increase of 12% in October, November and December for the overall national turnover to end in balance compared to last year”, continues the Observatory.
This year, the Christmas holidays are therefore a crucial issue for booksellers. In addition to compensating for the shortfall, “sales made in November and December represent on average a quarter of the annual activity of bookstores. The cash generated during this period allows us to hold out during the first six months of the year, ”according to the union. Before specifying that they had not yet witnessed bookstore closures “directly linked to Covid-19”.
As for the toy industry, the results for the year do not look better. “We lost 20 million euros in turnover during the 55 days of containment in the spring. It will be a greater loss in November, ”predicts Sébastien Maissin.
The “click and collect” will not be enough
The same story goes for the Alliance du commerce, which represents 27,000 points of sale in the clothing sector. In the fashion sector, December is “around 11 or 13% of turnover, which is still a big month, pieces sold in winter are more expensive than those sold in summer. The other important moments are obviously the sales, in January and February, ”explains Yohann Petiot, Managing Director of Alliance du commerce.
If many stores have started to “click and collect”, the online order distributed at the door of the store, it seems that the process is far from compensating for the losses suffered. “It is active in 36% of our stores and only represents 7% of the initial figure” according to Retail Int, quoted by Yohann Petiot.
A “trompe-l’oeil” solution, or even worse than partial unemployment according to the bookseller representative: “The click and collect requires that all teams be mobilized and bookstores give up partial activity to achieve only a quarter or half of their usual turnover ”. Not to mention the rest of the charges which continue to run. It is “to work more to earn less”, summarizes the Syndicate of the French bookstore.
Once is not custom, traders will be suspended from the next announcements from the authorities. “It is absolutely necessary to reopen for the 27th, assures Yohann Petiot. For us the last weekend in November is the second weekend of the year ”. As for the toy stores? Not reopening in November would be “unimaginable” for Sébastien Maissin, given the competition from platforms, the insufficiency of their “drive” channels and the fear of “crowd movements in stores in the face of the emergency in December”.