The shopping centers of Marseille and four departments of the Paca region will have to wait a little longer. While the government announced last Tuesday to lift the control of health passes on their entry “for the departments with an incidence rate of less than 200 per 100,000 inhabitants and in continuous decline for at least seven days”, in the Bouches-du- Rhône, the incidence rate was still, as of September 4, at 474.3, according to data from Public Health France. In the Var and the Vaucluse, with incidence rates of 232 and 269.7 respectively, the end of the tunnel can be seen, especially as these rates are declining rapidly throughout the Paca region.
“Impatient for customers but also for me”
That said, a month after the establishment of the health pass at the entrance to shopping centers of more than 20,000, or 16 concerned in the Bouches-du-Rhône, the results are bitter for traders. “Compared to August 2019, the last reference year, attendance fell by 22% on average for the south-eastern zone (Paca plus Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)”, informs Cathleen Berthe of the National Coordination of Shopping Centers (CNCC) . “With a peak of -26% in week three and four,” she adds. However, the end of August is traditionally “a very good month with the start of the school year”, regrets Cathleen Berthe.
In the Bourse shopping center, located near the Old Port in Marseille, traders are getting impatient. “It’s catastrophic,” said Rosa *, who manages a ready-to-wear brand. “We already had the health crisis and before that the yellow vests,” she blows. For her, the fall in attendance and turnover, if it does not disclose precise figures, is “well beyond” the averages advanced by the CNCC. Sabrina *, an employee, is “impatient for the customers but also for me”. “I only did my first dose of the vaccine and I have to get tested every other day.” A ritual considered painful although a screening stand is installed at the entrance to the site. Other brands, such as this video game sales chain, are experiencing the situation with a little more philosophy. “We took advantage of a big outing like the PS5 and we are lucky, in quotes, to be a big chain and our stores located in the city center which do not have the obligation of the pass are doing well” , says Lucas.
“The recovery is pretty good. July and August were quite favorable to us, ”notes Guillaume Sicard, president of the Marseille-center association, which unites stores in the heart of the city. However, he does not consider “really that there has been a counterbalance in the city center” of the fall in activity in shopping centers.
With economic growth estimated at 6% in 2021, the rebound in France seems to be greater than initially expected. A rebound which, for the time being, does not benefit shopping centers affected by the health pass.