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.