A draft ministerial decree on dark shops worries the city of Paris

The government is working on a draft ministerial decree that would facilitate the establishment of dark shops. Dark stores are those small warehouses positioned in the heart of cities by fast-paced start-ups and other ultra-fast delivery services. They experienced a meteoric rise during the Covid-19 pandemic and the Paris City Council tried to limit their establishment.

Protect local businesses and residents

Emmanuel Grégoire, first deputy mayor of Paris, said on Twitter to find out “with great concern and misunderstanding this draft decree by the DHUP [Direction de l’Habitat, de l’Urbanisme et des Paysages – ndlr] that effectively legalizes dark stores” and asks the government to suspend it. According to him, it is necessary to convene a specific working meeting on the subject. The mayor of Paris has been looking to regulate dark shops and limit their number for some time, advancing arguments related to competition for merchants and annoyances for locals.

In March, the mayor of Paris asked for the closure of 45 dark stores, of the 65 instructed at the time by his services, whose installation was considered illegal. “If these companies want to establish themselves in our city, they can work with the Paris services to find spaces that do not create discomfort for the inhabitants”, declared simply Emmanuel Grégoire. Some of these dark shops are installed on the site of former warehouses without the managers having submitted a request in good and due form, others are installed on the site of commercial establishments without a request to change the location of the location.

A project under discussion

“I will be vigilant that the development of dark stores does not come at the expense of retail”, wanted to reassure Olivia Grégoire, Minister Delegate responsible for Small and Medium Enterprises, Commerce, Crafts and Tourism. She adds that a guide adopted in March specifies that if a dark store doesn’t welcome the public, it’s a warehouse; and if it evolves to accommodate it, it’s a business. However, the currently criticized ministerial decree reclassifies dark stores as retail once a collection point is created. This would greatly limit the legal means available to municipalities to restrict their development.

But the government defends itself by guaranteeing that this text has been under consultation since July and that comments, from the Paris City Hall or other cities, are welcome. “Yes, we need to regulate the dark stores and find the balance between the vitality of inner cities and employment. That’s the whole purpose of this project!“, wrote on twitter Olivier Klein, Deputy Minister for Cities and Housing. If Paris is the first to worry, other cities like Nice and Toulouse are also worried.

As with the rise of self-service scooters and bicycles, cities find themselves overwhelmed with rolling out a new service before they can regulate it and must compose afterwards to limit any adverse effects.

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