The offensive against ghost shops or “dark stores” is thrown. At the initiative of the mayors of Lyon and Villeurbanne, several elected officials from major French cities such as Bordeaux and Strasbourg sent a letter to Élisabeth Borne on Friday August 19 to express their dissatisfaction with the possible regularization of these ghost stores.
This new generation of stores has developed with the rise of new brands that promise to deliver groceries “in ten minutes”. This is made possible by the installation of warehouses in the heart of cities, which take the place of traditional businesses, compete with them and generate nuisances due to the comings and goings of delivery people.
For several months, these ghost stores have been multiplying: there are already more than a hundred in Paris and they are appearing in all the big cities.
The letter from the mayors follows the announcement of a draft order and decree from the Ministry of Ecological Transition which aims to give them a status. Emmanuel Grégoire, deputy mayor of Paris, also attacked on Twitter this draft decree which, according to the elected official, plans to consider these ” dark blinds like normal shops”.
“Warehouses” or “shops”?
While the metropolises try as best they can to limit the installation of these businesses, they find themselves faced with a legal vagueness. Most networks try to present themselves as businesses. They invest in the premises of former city center stores, when they should be settling in warehouses.
This is precisely what the town hall of Paris is pointing out: of the 115 ghost stores on its territory, 45 use former local shops, occupations “illegal”according to Emmanuel Grégoire.
“This activity is part of urban logistics. It must be recognized as such and be limited to places where it can take place: in warehouses. Not in downtown businesses. We just want the current jurisdiction to be applied,” explains the assistant.
The loss of the competence of mayors
It is precisely with the aim of clarifying things that the government has launched this draft order and decree. Sent to stakeholders in July, it has been the subject of much criticism from elected officials who denounce its favorable character to the expansion of ghost stores.
According to them, the new regulations would make it possible to consider these businesses as “regular stores”, not like warehouses, if the latter have a collection point. Only the management of the warehouses being in the jurisdiction of the mayors, they would definitely lose control over the regularization of these “stores without windows”.
This change in status would ” run the risk to the municipalities of seeing these establishments multiply in our territories which, even with a reception desk, would nevertheless remain warehouses or opaque kitchenss”argue the signatories of the letter.
Most city councilors recognize the need to define a legal framework for this new sector, but refuse to allow this to be done to the detriment of their skills. ” It’s necessary find them a new qualification allowing us to identify themsupports Gildas Salaün, deputy mayor of Nantes. It is thanks to this legal definition that we will be able to control their implementation, consistent with our local fabric. »
Some mayors, like Christian Estrosi (Nice, Horizons) and Benoît Payan (Marseille, DVG) have, for their part, expressed the desire to simply ban their establishment.
The executive tries to calm the controversy
Faced with this outcry, the government has denied wanting to encourage the installation of these ghost stores. He argues that the draft order is intended to “better define them legallyto give the best means to elected officials so that they can act”. Olivier Klein, Minister Delegate for Cities and Housing, even said he was in favor of mayors being able to “ whether or not to prohibit dark store in a neighborhood ». Started in July, consultation with stakeholders will continue, promised the executive.