In Lockdown, France Says Pots and Pans Are Essential—but Not Silverware

France tries to share the hardship of new retail curbs to fight resurgent coronavirus, banning sale of nonessentials even in stores that remain open

French retailers say restrictions on sales of nonessential items, including toys like those blocked off in a Bordeaux supermarket on Tuesday, benefit e-commerce giants like Amazon.

Photo: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

PARIS—French supermarkets are still selling pajamas for children under four years old. Clothes aisles for older kids are cordoned off. You can buy pots and pans, but silverware—classified as table decoration—is restricted. Computers remain on store shelves. Gaming consoles don’t.

Newspapers? Yes. The books section? Off limits.

An effort by the government to spread the pain of France’s second coronavirus lockdown more fairly among the nation’s retailers has forced supermarkets, which have stayed open, to limit the sale of nonessentials. The move has angered big chains and given little comfort to small businesses, which are fighting to get all retail restrictions lifted.

“It’s very French, and very stupid,” said Michel-Edouard Leclerc, president of the French retailer E. Leclerc, a large chain of supermarkets that scrambled to comply with the new rules. “We had a problem and extended it to everyone.”

On his Facebook page, Mr. Leclerc warned shoppers that “a real obstacle course awaits you!”

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