End-of-year family celebrations are good for the morale of the French.
And what's good for morale is often good for… the economy.
In the jargon of senior officials of the Ministry of the Economy, it is "the famous index of household confidence, so decisive for consumption, and therefore for growth", details one of them.
Suffice to say that in Bercy, white-collar workers are closely scrutinizing, at the moment, the bad figures on the front of the Covid-19 epidemic.
Their possible consequences on the deconfinement planned for December 15 - which provided for the possibility of traveling without authorization, including between regions, and of spending Christmas with family, but also the reopening of theaters, museums and cinemas - give them cold sweats.
Because the stake of the decisions which will be taken this Wednesday at the Defense Council is not only health, political, it is also economic.
"The climate often does business," said Roland Lescure, president (LREM) of the Economic Affairs Committee of the National Assembly, reached by phone.
The prospect of loosening the constraints on December 15 was very good for morale.
When you pop your head out of the water after hitting bottom, you don't want to be pushed in again.
If the program is called into question, businesses and the French run the risk of being in the dark and this will have economic consequences… ”
Doubling of the limit on Christmas gift certificates
Concretely, what quantified impact?
No one can tell.
Only certainty, the restart was engaged.
Admittedly the French economy should remain in December 8% below its level before the health crisis - after a difference of 12% in November - but "the horizon is clearing" with the gradual lifting of containment and an expected rebound of consumption, estimated the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee) last week.
For now, the outlook remains encouraging.
The reopening of so-called non-essential businesses and the boom in demand, with the end-of-year celebrations, should stimulate retail trade and the activity of certain industries such as clothing, furniture and even household goods. equipment.
Bercy is active to further support the movement.
“We are going to double the 2020 ceiling for gift certificates that can be distributed for Christmas by works councils or directly by employers in smaller companies,” Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of the Economy, announced on Tuesday.
Concretely, an employer can give up to 341 euros in gift vouchers, against 172 euros maximum previously.
“This is a one-off measure to help support consumption in businesses that have suffered from confinement,” the minister insisted.
New Year's Eve, "the great concern of the government"
"A sword of Damocles weighs above December 15, and therefore the recovery," says a senior official.
“Of course there would be economic effects, sighs in Bercy.
But full re-containment in January is the worst-case scenario, which would lead to even more serious consequences.
So… you better adapt.
"More than Christmas with the family," the great concern of the government is the management of New Year's Eve, reports a trade unionist present on November 23 at the last meeting on the evolution of confinement organized between the executive and the social partners.
They have not yet addressed it publicly but they know that the risk of a third wave and a re-containment because of this evening is great.
If there are a lot of contaminated people, we will feel it three weeks later, when the bars-restaurants are reopening.
Editor's note: scheduled for January 20, provided that it is below 5,000 cases per day
Pending decisions, the Ministry of the Economy is doing the best it can to lower the figures for epidemiological indicators.
Alain Griset, the Minister in charge of SMEs, telephoned the representatives of the many Federations concerned so that their members comply with the health measures.
The end of the year family celebrations: behind the social, almost psychological issue, the French growth plays its future in the short and medium term.
Bercy holds his breath.