Cashierless Checkout Faces Worker Backlash In France


The rise of eCommerce in France has been changing the way retailers operate in the country, and it’s been worrying workers and citizens alike over concerns that the job market will fundamentally change, according to a report by The New York Times.

French labor laws don’t allow the majority of workers at shops in the country to work past 1 p.m. on Sundays, but the demand for round-the-clock services and from eCommerce retailers like Amazon has changed the way people shop, and subsequently the practices surrounding it. 

Some shops, like Géant Casino supermarket, have started using self-checkout lines and security guards after 1 p.m. on Sundays. The move has caused contention in the country, as Sunday is traditionally a day of rest. Labor unions are arguing that the move could end up costing jobs, and that the shift is a move toward more American-style consumerism.

“Sundays are sacred,” said Patrice Auvinet, the head of the General Confederation of Labor union in Angers. “If they change that, it will change French society. And if automated cashiers become normalized, it will have a catastrophic impact on workers.” 

Groupe Casino is the largest operator of supermarkets in France, and it started testing the Sunday openings in Angers, and then expanded it to at least 20 other locations, which caused protests.

Groupe Casino has not backed down from the experiment, and it said that it would use self-checkout lines on New Year’s Day as well.

The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, made headway in Sunday retail changes when he was the economy minister of France, when he loosened the regulations around business hours in an attempt to stimulate the economy. 

“The world is changing, and we’re in a very competitive environment,” said Sébastien Corrado, marketing head at Groupe Casino. “The internet doesn’t have frontiers, so we need to adapt to new modes of consumption that let us stay in the game and be winners.”


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