A giant Christmas tree stands at the Galeries Lafayette department store for the Christmas season amid an energy crunch where in public and private buildings are encouraged to save on their electricity consumption, in Paris, France, November 16, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
PARIS, Nov 16 (Reuters) – Protesting workers demanding higher salaries disrupted a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony under the historic dome of the Paris department store Galeries Lafayette on Wednesday.
“Not happy! Not happy,” protesters chanted, waving union flags and tooting horns as store director Alexandre Liot tried to address journalists.
A popular shopping destination, especially for American and Chinese visitors to the French capital, the Boulevard Haussmann store’s annual Christmas lighting ceremony has in the past been presided over by celebrities including actress Jessica Chastain and singer Beth Ditto.
Marc Correas, a salesman in the women’s shoe department, said workers were protesting for higher salaries.
“It is inadmissible in 2022 to earn 1,200 euros a month,” said Correas.
“We are sorry this happened,” said a Galeries Lafayette spokesperson, saying that the protesting unions did not reflect the “quality of the company’s social dialogue.”
The protests come as European retailers brace for shoppers to cut spending this holiday season, while the costs of doing business show no sign of abating, squeezing profit margins.
Retailers in Europe are having to strike a delicate balancing act with this year’s Christmas displays, seeking to create enough festive sparkle to loosen cash-strapped customers’ purse-strings, while also acknowledging the impact of the energy crisis.
Reporting by Mimosa Spencer; Editing by Leslie Adler
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