five questions to understand the controversy over these ghost shops

As the phenomenon gains strength in France, the government would like to regulate the opening of dark blinds and dark kitchens. But his project worries the city of Paris. Saturday, August 13, Emmanuel Grégoire, first deputy of the PS at the Paris City Council, responsible for urban planning, expressed on Twitter his ” worry “ it’s him “incomprehension” faced with this project which, in their opinion, “actually legalizes dark blinds ».

Explanations of this phenomenon and the debate it generates in several large French cities on five key issues.

1. What is this phenomenon?

Flink, Gorillas or Getir… The periods of curfew and confinement linked to the Covid health crisis favored the increase in Paris of orders for fast delivery of purchases at home, the fast trade. Its model, aimed at high-density areas, allows you to shop online (food, household products, hygiene and even cosmetics), with the promise of delivery by bicycle or electric scooter to your home in 15 to 30 minutes. , even ten minutes, seven days a week.

Read too : 15-minute delivery: these start-ups that want to transform their shopping

For this, these companies – such as the French company Cajoo or other foreign companies (Germany, United Kingdom, Turkey, etc.) dark blindswarehouses usually located on the ground floor of residential buildings, in order to be closer to consumers. “Every month they email us to tell us their new research point, it’s the race between them, recently explained to west of France Christophe Narda, director of real estate negotiations at Altim Conseils in Paris. The requests are specific: properties for rent, between 200 and 800 m2, always on the ground floor. They are everywhere, in every district. » And that, contrary to the rules of urbanism, esteems the metropolises in question.

Read too : Gorillas, Flink, Dija, Getir… Why Less Than 15 Minutes Grocery Delivery Is Progressing

On the same principle, flourish the dark kitchens : Understand ghost kitchens, without display windows or cafeterias, where only take-out meals are prepared in the lab. The phenomenon, which emerged in the United States about ten years ago, is now flourishing on European soil and in France to facilitate the delivery of take-out meals.

2. What are the specifics of the dark blinds ?

In February 2022, the Parisian Urban Planning Workshop (Apur) published a study on this phenomenon. In Paris and its nearby suburbs, “over 80 dark blinds and 25 dark kitchens already solved”, she listed. If your “economic profitability is far from certain”, “the priority objective is to gain market share as quickly as possible” and be present in the territory, particularly in the densest sectors.

Unlike the services to drive pedestrian systems created several years ago by the giants of mass distribution (Carrefour, Leclerc, Auchan) that can count between 15,000 and 20,000 references, the catalog of companies of the fast trade it only has 1,500 to 2,000 references, as the products must be immediately accessible.

A lot of dark blinds settled in premises previously occupied by companies (supermarkets or convenience stores, furniture stores, fashion stores, restaurants or stores that became offices), specifies the Apur study.

3. Why is this controversial?

Gold “a warehouse cannot be in a residential building and a dark store must be declared as a warehouse and not as a store to welcome customers” , reminds sociologist and retail expert Vincent Chabault to Actu.fr (Sipa/West-France group).

Warehouses and stores do not have the same impacts in terms of nuisance and neighborhood activity. “These new players bring very strong risks to cities, confided a few months ago to west of France Emmanuel Grégoire, of the Paris City Hall. This poses problems of congestion in public space, with bicycles and scooters, eviction of facilities and aggressive competition for hypercenter companies. » While local residents complain about the inconvenience generated, mainly by the comings and goings of delivery people.

The companies concerned, in turn, define themselves as “supermarkets” offering a local service in a small catchment area.

4. How do the cities involved react?

In March, the mayor of Paris had asked several of these companies to close forty-five dark blinds created “illegally” in capital : “permits, even construction permits, should have been requested”. Among the companies highlighted: Cajoo, Gorillas, Flink, Glovo, GoPuff, Yango Deli, Zapp, Rohlik, Bam Courses, Frichti, Deliveroo and Uber Eats. In June, the city announced that it had launched legal measures and wanted to impose the first financial penalties in September. It also intends to reinforce the local urban plan, namely in the control of changes in destinations.

What other major French cities are following closely. “ The recent announcement by the City of Paris to close 45 dark blinds is already leading to a phenomenon of postponing the installation of these Dingy stores in the inner suburbs (Saint-Ouen and Boulogne-Billancourt) continue to deliver to Parisians, thus causing a kind of externalization of nuisances, from which the other 36 municipalities in the metropolis of Toulouse must be protected in the long term »observed on 23 June the elected officials of Toulouse Métropole.

In February, Lyon listed “less than ten dark stores”, according to Camille Augey, assistant responsible for employment and sustainable economy in Lyon, who indicated that he had already vetoed the 6th arrondissement over a settlement project. While the city of Nice communicated, on Friday, May 6, 2022, its desire to block the dark blinds and asked the government to “tighten the law”.

5. Why a confrontation with the government?

On the government side, a draft decree and a draft order are ” under development “especially for “Better oversee the development of dark blinds, dark kitchens ” and “ clarify the status of these facilities”confirmed to AFP on Saturday, August 13, the ministry delegated to the Minister of Ecological Transition, responsible for the City and Housing.

But this project worries Emmanuel Grégoire, who fears that“a simple collection point will be enough to be considered a business”. He asks “that the government suspend this project and convene a specific working meeting on this matter with France Urbaine and the main cities involved”.

Within the government, it is specified that the “Query” is in progress “for six weeks”. The project “it was submitted in July to the consultation of the various stakeholders (local authorities and professionals involved). […] In the coming weeks, work will continue on adapting the text and consulting the actors involved in order to better reconcile the different issues. “, assures this source.

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