Like they do every November, the mayor of Paris and a popular celebrity of the moment switched on the Christmas lights yesterday along the famous Champs Elysées shopping boulevard. This year, the ceremony featured movie star Omar Sy flipping the switch alongside mayor Anne Hidalgo.
The event has been creeping earlier in the calendar—this year’s inauguration was the earliest in November for six years. The only year during the past decade when the Champs Elysées switched its lights on earlier was in 2008:
As global economic jitters exploded into a full-blown financial crisis that year, the mayor went from turning on the Champs Elysées lights on Nov. 26 in 2007 to Nov. 19 in 2008. Without that extra week of Christmas cheer, would retailers have fared even worse as the economy tanked?
More recently, the gradual creep of the lighting ceremony earlier in the calendar mimics the steady deterioration of the French economy, now one of the weakest links in the euro zone. Anything to encourage shoppers in the capital to open their wallets earlier would be welcome at the moment—as we have covered before, other countries get a bigger boost in retail sales during the holiday season.
When Quartz put this theory to the mayor’s office, a spokesperson said, “It’s possible.”
Alas, the timing was more likely the result of unrelated scheduling issues with the mayor’s diary, the spokesperson added, before wishing your correspondent a “Joyeux Noël.“