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Opening of Paris' upmarket Printemps store begins slow process of easing lockdown

People, wearing protective face masks, clean their hands with disinfectant before entering inside the department store Le Printemps Haussmann in Paris as France eases gradually its lockdown measures and restrictions following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, May 28, 2020.
People, wearing protective face masks, clean their hands with disinfectant before entering inside the department store Le Printemps Haussmann in Paris as France eases gradually its lockdown measures and restrictions following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, May 28, 2020. © REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
2 min

Masked shoppers lined up to browse at luxury boutiques inside Printemps’ main Paris store on Thursday, one of the city’s last major department stores to reopen after two months of closure.

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Even still, a lack of tourists is likely to remain a major drag on sales.

The opening came a few hours before France’s prime minister Édouard Philippe, in a televised address to the country, started the slow process of easing France out of lockdown. “The results are good regarding the health plan… Good, but not sufficiently good for everything to return to normal,” Philippe said, calling for everyone to remain alert.

Printemps, owned by Qatari investors, is one of the pre-eminent French department stores alongside Galeries Lafayette, and a big draw for tourists in Paris, though the coronavirus pandemic has all but frozen international travel.

Dozens of shoppers, including many Asian residents in Paris, queued up outside the store as it opened its doors and many made a beeline to the Louis Vuitton shop inside to nab some of the bestselling bag models.

“It’s important that we are able to reopen quickly and re-launch our activity, even if we know that we will not have the same revenues as last year,”  Pierre Pelarrey, general director of Printemps’ flagship store on Boulevard Haussmann, told the Reuters news agency.

Pelarrey declined to give details on the revenue shortfall or whether the chain would obtain a state-guaranteed loan to help its finances through the pandemic, saying only “it is being studied” when asked about government aid.

The number of customers is expected to be down to about 8,000 shoppers per day, Pelarrey said, about a quarter of normal traffic.

Business school student Celia Hebeterne bought Alexander McQueen sneakers and a Gucci scarf as a gift for a friend.

“Well, we went through two months of lockdown, we stayed safe. And now, we can enjoy some things, do some shopping,” said university student Emma Masson as she shopped alongside Hebeterne.

The lack of tourists is expected to depress sales at luxury brands from Milan to Paris in the months to come.

 

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