Paris to curb out-of-town hypermarkets

MARY DEJEVSKY

Paris

France is to restrict the expansion of the vast shopping centres that ring cities. The move is an about-face for a country which pioneered US-style malls in Europe and has the highest ratio of hypermarkets to inhabitants - 1.5 to 100,000.

The measures, set out in Bordeaux yesterday by the Prime Minister, Alain Juppe, reflect belated concern that consumer giants like Carrefour and Continent are driving small shopkeepers out and causing the decline of town centres. They also reflect the belief of the government that small businesses, "the backbone of the economy", can be a driving force for jobs and training for young unemployed people.

Among the Juppe proposals are strict planning conditions for out-of-town hypermarkets, to comprise an assessment of the local commercial impact as well as environmental considerations; national approval for very big developments and the outlawing of certain practices deemed anti-competitive.

There are also to be tax and tariff concessions for businesses with fewer than 500 employees, cheaper loans, a reduction in electricity charges, and less paperwork for new businesses. But Mr Juppe refused to give small businesses what they most wanted: the abolition of the local business tax. He also threatened statutory measures if there was no voluntary increase in jobs and training places for the young.

Mr Juppe revealed his plans at a congress of small and medium-sized business representatives in Bordeaux, where he is mayor. The venue was partly a reflection of the city's strong commercial tradition, but it also offered an olive-branch to people in Bordeaux who have complained that Mr Juppe's other obligations mean that he neglects their interests.

France has lagged behind Britain in acknowledging the effects of hypermarkets, and although constraints were tightened by Edouard Balladur when he became prime minister in 1995, development continued. Until recently, the strength of local commerce had tended to obscure the fact that families were forsaking their towns to shop in hypermarkets.

In recent months, protest movements have grown. Shopkeepers have staged protests; the bakers' federation has mounted a "Buy local" advertising campaign , and there has been a revival of the militant Poujadiste movement of the Fifties, with violent incidents in Montpellier and Bordeaux.

While catching a popular mood, the measures also represent a shrewd and even necessary political decision by Mr Juppe. With much of France disrupted by transport strikes and a new round of public-sector protests planned through the rest of this week, the Gaullist-voting small-business constituency is one the government needs to keep on its side.

The practical effect may not be as great as either government or small businesses hope. Price may not be quite such a factor for French consumers as it is for those elsewhere in Europe, and affection for small shops and local suppliers may be greater, but price is important. Consumer spending fell by 4 per cent in October, and there are predictions of a "catastrophic" Christmas. It seems the French need incentives not just to use local shops, but to buy anything beyond what they need.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower