France warns people off Black Friday clothes deals

Two people walk past a sign for Black Friday in France.

The French government has launched a campaign encouraging people not to buy new clothes in Black Friday sales.

The advert shows a man asking for advice in a shop before an assistant tells him not to buy anything, to help the planet and his finances.

The minister for ecological transition – responsible for promoting sustainability – Christophe Béchu, is behind the campaign.

But the message has been criticised by other government departments.

Finance minister Bruno Le Maire called it “ill-conceived” and said it would harm “honest businesses”.

Le Maire’s department been trying to tackle the rise in unemployment and the cost of living crisis – and seasonal sales are thought to put more money back into the economy.

Black Friday, when retailers offer significant discounts and promotions, is one of the biggest shopping days of the year in many European countries.

On Thursday Béchu admitted that the message may have targeted the wrong businesses, he told France Inter: “We should have targeted online sales platforms rather than physical businesses with the same message.”

But he said the adverts would not be pulled.

The campaign is one of a number of initiatives from Mr Béchu, who previously launched a “repair bonus” to encourage people to repair their existing clothes instead of buying new ones.

From October the government has subsidised clothing and shoe repairs by giving people between €6 (£5) and €25 (£21) off the cost. The government has committed to contributing €154m to the repair bonus fund over the next five years.

Bérangère Couillard, the junior ecology minister, said the government was committed to tackling fast fashion.

More criticism came from the Commerce Alliance, the Union of Textile Industries and the French Union of Fashion and Clothing Industries which issued a joint statement.

“We ask for its immediate withdrawal, failing which we will consider legal action for commercial denigration.

“We ask ADEME [the French Environment and Energy Management Agency] and the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Territories to immediately remove this video and to work together to develop positive communication on the transformation of the fashion and commerce sector.”

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