French politicians and retailers are appealing to citizens to shop at local stores as protests by the so-called Yellow Vest activists, who are demanding better wages and lower taxes for middle and lower-income workers, stretched beyond a month in Paris and elsewhere, according to several news reports.
"Go back to the small stores," Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud said in a French radio interview Wednesday, according to a report from Bloomberg. "We are enriching American platforms like Amazon and killing the small businesses."
The most prominent American business benefiting from the unrest is Amazon, which enjoys a 20% e-commerce market share in France, according to Kantar Worldpanel data cited by Bloomberg. Lost retail sales from the protests have surpassed €1 billion ($1.14 billion), according to Bloomberg, citing data from French retail federation FCD.
As street protests continue in Paris and elsewhere in France, Amazon is being criticized as one of the enemies of the French worker. Yet, online shopping has emerged as a safe way to check off holiday lists as street protests have frightened citizens, especially in Paris and other cities.
The e-commerce giant didn't return Retail Dive's request for comment on the rhetoric, but in November Amazon had already sweetened its holiday fulfillment that was likely helping stoke sales. From Nov. 29 to Dec. 5 French customers were treated to discounted shipping, and, as Christmas approaches, Amazon has offered €0,01 shipping with no minimum purchase and a longer return window in January for items sold and shipped by Amazon purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, according to a company press release.
Adding to that advantage is the mindshare that top American brands enjoy in several countries overseas, including France, according to an email from Kantar's Insights Division in North America to Retail Dive. That includes e-commerce retailers, too. Data on U.S. cross-border transactions from Ingenico Group shows that the top five countries buying online from U.S. merchants between Black Friday and Cyber Monday were Canada, the Netherlands, the U.K., France and Austria, according to an email to Retail Dive.