The French government has postponed to Jan. 20 the start of the winter clearance period from its initial date of Jan. 6. The clearance period will last four weeks.

In radio interview with RMC/BFM TV, the Economy Minister, Bruno Le Maire, added that the measure is aimed at helping small retailers to sell their stock at full prices over a longer period.

The government had already suspended the summer clearance for the same reason as retailers were hit by a drop in sales during the first round of Covid-19 related lockdowns.

Several trade associations representing small retailers had called for the postponement of the clearance period to enable their members improve their profit and loss accounts after lockdowns introduced from October 30 to November 27 due to the resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, seven trade associations representing large retailers criticized in a joint statement the government’s decision. Emmanuel Le Roch, head of the trade association Procos, which signed the joint statement, told the news agency AFP that the retailers would have preferred to bring the clearance period forward to liquidate stocks and raise cash rapidly.

The signatories of the statement are also concerned that due to the postponement, the clearance period will overlap with Valentine’s Day and the start of the school holidays, when French households are less inclined to shop.

Yohann Petiot, director general of Alliance du commerce, another signatory of the statement, argued that the decision to delay the summer clearance period by three weeks to help small retailer was not “conclusive.” But, for Francis Palombi, the president of CDF, which represents independent retailers, it was a “great success.”.

According to AFP, the postponement of the summer clearance period did not benefit retailers situated in Paris and large cities, due to the absence of city dwellers because of the holidays and a lack of foreign tourists, but it did help stores located in touristic destinations.