Wires

French activists protest against Amazon in Black Friday backlash

Christian Lowe and Sarah White

PARIS, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Activists staged protests against online retailer Amazon around France on Friday, denouncing the rampant consumerism typified by the annual Black Friday shopping frenzy.

French companies have embraced Black Friday, named for the sales held on the first Friday after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday when retailers typically heavily discount their goods to spur business. However, there has been a backlash against the event driven in part by environmental concerns.

Several dozen protesters gathered at dawn outside an Amazon headquarters building in the Clichy district of Paris and staged a sit-in outside the front gates. They held up a sign saying: "No to Amazon and its world."

Manon Aubry, a left-wing member of the European parliament, said the protest was intended to "denounce the social, environmental and fiscal damage from Amazon."

"From the streets to parliament, we continue to fight against the impunity of the multinationals," she wrote on Twitter.

According to social media posts from Attac, a group that campaigns for more democratic globalisation, there was also a sit-in outside an Amazon logistics centre near Lyon, in eastern France.

Video posted online by Attac showed police in riot helmets picking up activists and hauling them away. The Lyon protesters had erected a sign saying: "Amazon... Stop expansion, Stop Over-production!"

In a e-mailed statement Amazon France said it respected the rights of people to express their opinions but that does not extend to organising violent demonstrations where people work.

"The demonstrators and Attac are throwing around untrue allegations based on factual errors and are pointing the finger at Amazon for political ends," it said.

Francois Momboisse, president of French online retail association Fevad, condemned the protests.

"Black Friday is one of the top sales days of the year and it allows us to smooth out Christmas shopping over a longer period rather than compressing all those sales in the Dec. 10 to 24 period. It does not necessarily lead to more consumption," he told French broadcaster BFM TV.

French lawmakers on Monday passed a legislative amendment to ban abusive advertising and misleading promotions during sale periods, taking aim at Black Friday campaigns in particular.

The amendment is part of a new law aimed at cracking down on waste and which will push companies to recycle unsold goods. It is not clear how misleading advertising will be defined or penalised.

The text of the amendment described Black Friday as a "vast operation for the glorification of consumerism imported from the United States." (Additional reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)