Dark store: the government is trying to calm the situation

After concerns tinged with anger expressed by the Parisian executive in the face of a draft text on the regulation of dark shops submitted for consultation on Thursday 18 August 2022, the government attempted to settle the dispute.

Not sure if this is enough to calm down. On Thursday afternoon, the government held an informal conference, also referred to as a “briefing”, to try to end the controversy that has arisen over proposed rule changes to dark shops.

Dark shop in Paris. © JGP

“With great anxiety and misunderstanding, we discover a draft order (…), which de facto legalizes “dark shops”. (Installing) a simple collection point will be enough to be considered a business,” Emmanuel Grégoire, urban planning assistant at the Paris City Hall, alarmed on Twitter a few days ago.

In fact, the city government has announced that it has begun voicing dark shops that have turned businesses into warehouses without asking permission from Paris City Hall. Permission is required when the local urban plan (PLU) classifies the affected streets as a reserved area, and any change in destination requires prior authorization.

Fine from 500 to 25,000 euros

These PLU violations are punishable by an administrative fine of 500 euros per day, up to a maximum of 25,000 euros. On March 7, 2022, the City Hall of Paris gathered all operators of dark shops to remind them of the rules.

It is underlined by the government today that the city of Paris has not responded to an invitation made to it to take part in the recent commerce court hearings. It is also pointed out that, in fact, the criterion of the presence of a place for the reception of the public is decisive in determining the nature of the activity of the company in question, which makes it possible to distinguish between the activity of a warehouse and trade.

Advisers to the relevant ministries, Olivia Gregoire, in charge of SMEs, trade, crafts and tourism, and Olivier Klein, in charge of the city and housing, remind that dark shops are likely to damage traditional businesses and cause a number of neighborhood unrest. But they also intend to put the weight of this activity into perspective, which promises its customers delivery in less than 10 minutes after placing an order through the app.

In a recent study on the subject, the Paris urban planning workshop (Apur) identified 60 dark shops in the capital, compared to 60,000 in Paris, as we recall. Moreover, in a few months the number of operators of this fast trade in the capital would be reduced from nine to four. “In order for this activity to be profitable, an average basket of 40 euros is needed, while it is about twenty euros,” the message emphasizes. Finally, we are assured that the draft text that caused controversy is still at the consultation stage. “We have to regulate. We must give the mayors the ability to ban or ban the “dark shop” in the area,” Olivier Klein said on RTL on Thursday morning.

CPME, the interprofessional territorial union dealing with VSE-SME, responded on August 19, 2022 to government comments. He urges the government to create “a legal framework for a strong and territorial regulation of fast trading in Paris to fill the legal void in which this activity has developed rapidly in the capital, where it already represents more than 25%. home delivery of food, all too often at the expense of local merchants and locals.”
“Public authorities must ensure that the new methods of consumption and delivery are properly integrated in Paris and thus put an end to the effects of rapid trade that can take the lives of certain areas of the capital,” said Bernard Cohen-Hadad, President of CPME Paris Ile. de France. The organization proposes that the City of Paris be the competent authority to adapt and clarify the regulation of fast trading within the capital within the legal framework developed by the executive branch and invites the mayor’s office to take the opportunity to reform the Local Urban Plan (LEP) to indicate that the ban on warehouses applies to fast merchants in certain areas.

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