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Amazon drops Black Friday ads in France as it enters lockdown

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POLAND - 2020/10/06: In this photo illustration Amazon logo displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
POLAND - 2020/10/06: In this photo illustration Amazon logo displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Amazon (AMZN) has promised to withdraw its advertising for pre-Black Friday offers in France as it enters its second lockdown.

The French government said the ad campaign would be unfair to small shops and businesses which have been forced to close again as the country aims to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

France reverted to its second lockdown on Friday, which will last until 1 December, in a bid to curtail rising infections. The curbs imposed include the closure of bars, restaurants and other non-essential stores, as well as domestic travel and public gatherings being banned.

People in France will only be allowed to leave their homes to buy essential goods, for medical purposes and to exercise for one hour a day.

A spokesperson for Amazon confirmed to Reuters that the group had agreed to stop its radio advertising campaign around pre-Black Friday sales. However, as of Saturday morning Amazon’s French website still had a page with discounted items dubbed “Black Friday ahead of time”.

Agnes Pannier-Runchaer, junior economy minister told Europe 1 radio on Saturday that she had asked the online retail giant to suspend the campaign. It was “not at all appropriate at a time when 200,000 businesses will have to shut their doors,” she said.

READ MORE: Black Friday: UK consumer spending to increase even as participation drops

Black Friday, the informal name for the Friday after Thanksgiving Day in the United States, has become a global shopping event, with retail prices often heavily discounted to encourage people to buy in the run up to Christmas.

In recent years it has turned into a two-week shopping event with retailers (both bricks-and-mortar and online) competing to start their sales earlier to lure customers first.

UK shoppers are expected to spend an estimated £6bn ($4.6bn) in 2020’s Black Friday sales, according to annual research from shopping comparison site Finder.

Amazon’s French campaign was due to run between 26 October until 19 November.

The news comes as Germany and Switzerland also announced tighter restrictions on Wednesday.

Europe’s largest economy said its “lockdown light” is set to come into effect on 2 November for four weeks to bring its latest wave of coronavirus under control. Bars and pubs will close under the new rules, but restaurants will be open for takeaways only.

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said that the EU, Britain, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland have accounted for 1.1 million COVID-19 cases. She warned that numbers would rise “rapidly”.

Watch: Coronavirus restrictions tighten in London

The UK could also be heading towards a second national lockdown, with West Yorkshire the latest region to go into Tier 3 restrictions on Monday.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson is thought to be mulling a month-long lockdown across England that would be eased before Christmas.

The new "stay at home" order could be announced as soon as Monday, with schools, colleges and universities exempt from restrictions.

Yahoo Finance reached out to Amazon for comment.

Watch: Target fights off Amazon in early Black Friday battle

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