Iconic Paris department store Printemps reopens

Paris (AFP) –


The famous Parisian department store Printemps selling high-market brands reopened its doors to eagerly awaiting masked clients on Thursday, two months after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shoppers impatient to indulge in fashion items and beauty and luxury products formed a long queue in front of the Art Nouveau landmark on Boulevard Haussmann in the ninth arrondissement, as they waited for doors to open.

An administrative court decided to allow the store to reopen, sparking a flurry of activity for Printemps' employees who rushed to prepare to attend clients in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

Masks are provided for shoppers who will have to follow a fixed itinerary throughout the store. Hand gel is offered and the plexiglass barriers now ubiquitous at cash registers across France have been installed.

"It was time," head of the store Pierre Pelarrey told AFP on Wednesday. "We need to make sales, which have been nil since the beginning of lockdown" in March, he said, adding that fixed costs have continued throughout this period.

But Printemps' boss said it was almost certain that the store won't have the same number of clients as before the virus, particularly due to the lack of foreign shoppers as borders remain closed.

The department store normally welcomes more than 20 million visitors a year.

Shops with more than 40,000 square metres (430,000 square feet) of floor space had been forbidden to open before July 10 due to the continued threat posed by the virus.

But a top administrative court reversed the decision, on the basis that the Printemps store is made up of separate sections with different entrances and exits, none of which cover more than 40,000 square metres.

Paris' other famous department store, Galeries Lafayette, is also contesting the decision and is hoping for a similar outcome from the courts.