The violence that erupted in France following the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old in a Paris suburb has cost at least €1billion, including in the transport and tourism sectors, estimates suggest.
The riots, looting and clashes with law enforcement were sparked after a police officer was charged with killing Nahel during a traffic stop in Nanterre last Tuesday (June 27).
French business network, the Mouvement des entreprises de France (MEDEF), said it came up with the €1billion figure after calculating that more than 200 businesses, 300 banks, and 250 newsagents were affected by the violence, with some entirely looted and gutted.
Larger stores, including Carrefour, Leclerc, Lidl, Auchan, lingerie shop Etam, the Apple Store, McDonald’s and KFC were affected. But many smaller businesses with fewer resources were also targeted.
In total, around 1,500 businesses have been affected, according to the French government.
The amount calculated so far only refers to material damage and does not take into account the loss of earnings or revenue.
MEDEF president, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, told Le Parisien: “It’s too soon to give a more precise figure but we’ve already reached €1billion, even without the loss from a tourism perspective. Everything has been stolen, right down to the cash registers, before [the rioters] lit everything on fire to destroy it.”
Etam boss Laurent Milchior said that his business alone has lost “one million euros…for the first Saturday of the sales”.
MEDEF’s president also warned that the images of the riots in France have been reported worldwide. This is likely to harm the tourism sector, which is a major part of the French economy, especially in the summer, he said.
Jean-François Rial, head of the Office du tourisme de Paris said local hotels have reported cancellations from foreign clients of up to 20-25% as a result of the riots, which will have a knock-on effect on the tourism, hospitality, restaurant, and retail sectors.
Countries including the US, UK, and China issued warnings to their citizens who were planning to travel to France, which will have had further negative effects.
Cultural events were also cancelled, including a planned performance from Mylène Farmer at the Stade de France, and the festivals Yardland and Les Estivales de Vanves.
France’s education minister Pap Ndiaye has said that 243 schools were damaged, due to protesters seeing them as representatives of the French state.
He said: “Around a dozen [schools] were partially or completely destroyed…we’re talking dozens of millions of euros.”
Repair and rebuilding work will also likely cause educational and job disruption to the pupils and teachers affected.
Many bus and tram services across the country were also damaged, or forced to alter services as a result of the riots. This was the case in cities including Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Strasbourg.
Île-de-France Mobilités (IDFM) said the cost in its region alone was already estimated at €20million, due to at least 39 destroyed buses, at least two burned-out trams, and tramway lines. It said that one tramway alone can cost €5million.
In Clamart, Hauts-de-Seine, an entire tramway rail was burned, while a new tramway in Châtenay-Malabry was also damaged, with costs set to run to at least €5million. Articulated buses costing €220,000 each (and some up to €500,000) were also damaged in Aubervilliers.
However, Mr Roux de Bézieux said he felt confident that insurance companies would pay quickly, and urged companies to pay back “punctually” to help businesses that have been forced to shut temporarily as a result of the damage.
He suggested that the government and insurance companies should offer “targeted solutions” for the most-affected businesses.
France’s Economy Minister, Bruno Le Maire, said he had asked insurance companies to extend the deadlines for declaring damage and to pay out as soon as possible.
France Assureurs, which represents French insurance firms, said: “Insurance companies are ready and will continue to respond to requests to help our insured parties.”
However, many insurance companies may only cover the cost of damage, not any loss of business.
In addition, the cost of the damage from these riots has been particularly high this time, the MEDEF president said, because of the nature of the violence. In 2005, when riots previously erupted, the damage was mostly confined to burned-out cars, in contrast to buildings and businesses this time around.
However, almost 2,000 vehicles were still burned out and damaged over the past few days.