Petrol stations run dry after ‘yellow vest’ riots in France
Total has warned dozens of its petrol stations have run dry in France following the worst rioting to hit the country in 50 years.
As the damage continued to be cleared on Monday, finance minister Bruno Le Maire warned the social unrest would have a “serious” effect on the economy.
He told reporters that some sectors had reported sales declines of between 15 to 25% since the protests began.
Shares in large French firms, such as supermarket operator Carrefour, were suffering amid fears shoppers were wary of visiting stores given the scale of the violence.
Tourism-related stocks were also hit – with Air France and hotel chain Accor falling 1.6% and 2.7% respectively.
Feeling the pain too was motorway operator Vinci Autoroutes, which saw protesters blockade toll booths nationwide.
Refineries have also been targeted, though petrol and diesel shortages in some areas are likely to have been exacerbated by recent strikes over pay and conditions at six of the country’s seven sites.
It was not clear whether shortages at Total filling stations were being mirrored elsewhere.
Tens of thousands took to the streets of Paris and other major cities for a third straight weekend of protests over rises in the cost of living.
Anger in the so-called ‘yellow vest’ movement was initially directed at fuel tax increases but later spread to cover other areas of President Emmanuel Macron’s policy agenda.
The latest violence left more than 100 injured in Paris as major roads were blockaded, shops looted and dozens of cars torched.
Police, who used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon to break up the trouble, made over 400 arrests.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was holding crisis talks with representatives of major political parties on Monday.
The ‘yellow vest’ movement – so named because of the fluorescent jackets all drivers are obliged to carry in France in case of breakdown – have directed their anger at President Macron whose approval rating has hit an all-time low.
They accuse his government of piling extra cost burdens on the poorest in French society as he moves to cut dependency on the state.
The government has not ruled out the possibility of imposing a state of emergency if the protests continue.