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Paris fears Amazon Prime Now will 'destabilize' its economy

Engadget Engadget 20/06/2016 Steve Dent
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Amazon has brought its one-hour grocery delivery service Paris, and the city is not happy about it. Prime Now is available to Premium subscribers who pay €49 per year (Prime is called "Premium" in France) with free two-hour deliveries and €6 for one-hour shipping. Besides groceries, the company will shop "thousands" of other products. However, it's the food deliveries that have most unbalanced Paris and its mayor, Anne Hidalgo. "This service could seriously destabilize the retail balance in Paris," she says.

PrimeNow launched in the US and parts of Europe without much fanfare, but France is known to be protective of local businesses, and has laws to back it up. Hidalgo says the biggest problem is that Amazon only informed city hall of the service several days before it launched, according to Le Figaro. France has clashed with the retailer in the past, and passed a law banning free book shipping to protect local shops. As a result, Amazon famously charges a single "centime" (penny) to ship books.

From a consumer standpoint, however, there's a lot to like about it. As a Paris resident, I can get fresh, high-quality produce from the famous Rungis wholesale market (above), which normally sells only to restaurants and markets. I can also get croissants and other baked goods or even a laptop without having to leave my apartment. Best of all, the service operates until 10 pm every day, including Sunday, when most stores and supermarkets are closed.

That said, the city of Paris is also concerned about extra pollution and traffic in the city. It recently banned vehicles built prior to 1997, and by 2020, will ban pre-2010 vehicles from daytime driving. The city will ask the French legislature to "establish safeguards that ensure [Amazon's] services don't constitute unfair competition against retailers and craftsmen." If that sounds like an idle threat, remember what happened to Uber.

Le Figaro

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