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Coronavirus: French businesses fear low-key Christmas season

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By Guillaume Petit
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Christmas starts with decorating traditional fir tree
Christmas starts with decorating traditional fir tree   -   Copyright  Guillaume Petit
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Most Christmas celebrations in France kick off with decorating the traditional fir tree. Taken from forests across the country, most trees will finish their journey as the centrepiece in French living rooms.

Rene Jonquille usually cuts around 12,000 trees, but this year, the number of shop orders has fallen.

He believes there is a lot of uncertainty among consumers over how they are going to manage this year's Christmas celebrations.

"I think we are going to sell Christmas trees anyway, but we don't know how customers are going to buy them," he says. "Are they going to come to our sales outlet, are they going to buy them in garden centres or supermarkets?"

Around seven million Christmas trees were purchased last year in France, totalling an estimated turnover of more than €190 million.

Chocolate maker, sous-chef Valentin Bonnin, is already making prepartions for the festive season with a Christmas classic called the Golden Palace, made with cocoa paste, cocoa butter, and edible golden zest.

December usually accounts for 40% of his turnover, and this Christmas is all the more crucial after a year marked by declining sales. But he remains optimistic.

"I think that the French will still celebrate Christmas and yule logs are very traditional and anchored in people's mentalities, so I think the Christmas cake will still be a must-eat," he says.

Judging by the flow of customers into his shop, it seems the French are planning for Christmas earlier than in previous years.

It's clear the most affected by the crisis might see their Christmas budget reduced, but thanks to the announcement by President Macron last Tuesday, at least families will be able to see each other, even if it's in smaller numbers than usual.

Watch the report by Guillaume Petit in the video player above.