France’s parliament is to debate banning Black Friday on the grounds that it is bad for the planet, promotes "overconsumption" and flouts strict French rules on sales periods.
France’s ecological transition minister, Elisabeth Borne, appeared to back the idea this week, warning against “frenzied consumerism” linked to the sales weekend and its negative impact on the environment.
MPs on Monday agreed to add the proposed ban to an “anti-waste” bill that will be debated in parliament early next month.
The amendment was tabled by Delphine Batho, France’s former environment minister and a Green, in the name of cracking down on “over-consumption”.
She and other environmentally-minded MPs want Black Friday advertising to be considered “aggressive commercial practices”, which under current French law are punishable by a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a €300,000 (£256,000) fine.
“Black Friday celebrates a model of consumption that is anti-ecological and anti-social,” said MP Mattieu Orphelin, a former member of President Emmanuel Macron’s LREM party.
Environmental activists, including Extinction Rebellion, and anti-capitalist groups have pledged to launch a “Block Friday” operation to disrupt this Friday’s online sale, which has not been banned.
The proposed ban came as the environment minister warned Black Friday went against attempts to fight the climate crisis.
“You can’t at the same time reduce green house emissions and call for frenzied consumerism,” she said this Monday, adding that Black Friday “incites you to buy products that you don’t necessarily need".
The trade council of France, a trade umbrella group, said it “regretted” her comments.
“Using the word frenzy gives the impression that consumers are not committed and responsible citizens,” it said.
After suffering a drop in business due to months of crippling “yellow vest” protests, the government “should rejoice rather than deplore (Black Friday) as everything that kick starts and maintains consumption is good for commerce and thus for the French economy,” it said.
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Conservative MP Eric Woerth, president of French parliament’s finance commission, denounced what he called a “useless row” sparked by Ms Borne’s comments.
“Next they’ll say that Mother’s Day isn’t on because it’s a frightful commercial fete and then they’ll target Christmas,” he said.
“What right does she have to meddle in our lives? People have the right to launch advertising campaigns to consume and people have the right to consume, as long as it’s responsible consumption,” he said.
Black Friday started in the US where it follows Thanksgiving Day, seeing a significant amount of shoppers head to high street stores and online brands in attempt to find the best deals.