PARIS – France was reeling Friday morning, just hours after an attack in the southern city of Nice left more than 80 dead and scores of others critically injured.
A truck slammed into revelers along the city’s seaside walk, the Promenade des Anglais, following the end of the traditional fireworks display marking France’s day of independence, Bastille Day, at 10:30 p.m. The driver also fired shots before being killed by police.
By Friday morning, 84 people were reportedly dead. The promenade – which is peppered primarily with hotels and residences – remained closed to the public. The rest of Nice was operational.
Galeries Lafayette was open Friday, and none of its employees harmed, said a spokeswoman for the department store, whose branch in the city is not far from the Promenade des Anglais.
In nearby Cagnes-sur-Mer, the Printemps department store in the Polygone Riviera shopping center was trading, as well.
The driver of the truck was identified as a 31-year-old man of Franco-Tunisian origin.
The Vigipirate anti-terror alert was raised to the highest level “alerte attentat” (or “alert attack”) for the department of Nice. France, meanwhile, has been under a state of emergency ever since the November attacks in Paris, and that was extended again right after the Nice incident.
It was the third major attack in France since the start of last year, following the January 2015 attacks on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery store in Paris, and the series of November 2015 incidents at the city’s Bataclan concert hall and other sites.
The fallout from those events, plus more recent transport strikes and demonstrations against France’s socialist government’s proposed labor law, have contributed to severely denting the country’s visitor levels thereby negatively impacted restaurant frequentation, hotel occupancy and retail spend.
In the first quarter of this year in the Paris region, the number of Japanese tourists dropped by 56 percent; Italians, 24 percent, and Russians, 35 percent. Meanwhile, the number of Chinese visitors decreased 13.9 percent, versus their 49 percent increase in full-year 2015. In late May, the Regional Tourism Committee of Paris said a near-term uptick was not expected.
At the same time, in a move to promote the city as a go-to spot, the “Destination Paris” campaign was kicked off by French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Jean-Marc Ayrault, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Valérie Pécresse, president of the Paris region council.
Consumer luxury-goods spending continues to take a hit worldwide. Global Blue data for June showed overall it was down 13 percent globally and 16.8 percent in Europe (versus a slightly better result in the prior month, when the levels came in down 6.3 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively).
The Chinese consumer worldwide registered its fourth consecutive negative monthly result since 2010, with a 17.5 percent decline, while Russian spending dropped 32.4 percent.
“In our view, the recent daigu crackdown measures put in place by the Chinese government are putting further pressure on Chinese consumer travel and spending abroad, in addition to terrorist attack fears and biometric visa changes in Europe,” wrote Barclays luxury goods analyst Julian Easthope in a note.