From the explosion of e-commerce during confinement to the closing of departments deemed “non-essential”, the consumption habits of the French have continued to be reshaped for two years. Inflation, which is now close to 6% over one year, now forces them to “pay more attention” to their purchases. While general consumption of goods has been falling steadily since November (-3.9% since November), the fall in food purchases has slowed just as much (-4% since November).
Second item of household expenditure just after housing, the food shopping basket becomes lighter as the energy bill increases. Logically, it’s time to save money.
” Customers adjust their purchases. The search for quality with healthier, more ecological products is put on hold. They arbitrate, discuss, compare prices on the drive sites of different brands. We cannot speak for the moment of a phenomenon of deconsumption”assures La Tribune Michel-Edouard Leclerc, president of the strategic committee of the E. Leclerc centers.
Some products, such as cut products and fruits and vegetables, are being sacrificed. “Products perceived as a small pleasure in normal times”, notes Rodolphe Bonnasse, retail specialist. Another victim of customer decisions, organic products which ” patina and regress in stores because customers are rediscovering its price », according to Michel-Edouard Leclerc. A basic trend (-3.1% of sales in value in 2021), amplified by inflation.
Some hasty and irrational buying behaviors
On the shelves, the French are abandoning the ranges of products considered superfluous and refocusing on the first prices and very often ” the basico–basic, distributor brands, 10 to 20% cheaper than other brands,” after Rodolphe Bonnasse. Another recurring behavior that the expert notes in this anxiety-provoking climate of permanent crisis, “reinsurance purchases”, namely the rush on basic necessities such as oil, pasta or toilet paper for fear of shortages. In his shelves, Michel-Edouard Leclerc observes that “The hasty purchase of these products creates shortages, but not shortages. Suppliers still have stock.
Signs compete in inventiveness to attract these consumers concerned about protecting their purchasing power, a subject that saturates the media and advertising. System U, Casino or Carrefour multiply sales at “cost price” and other promotions. Whether it is to sell gasoline at cost price or the baguette at 29 cents, Leclerc deploys the same operations carried by major communication campaigns, relayed by its media boss. ” The loaf of bread, the tank of gas are signals addressed to our customers to be identified, to show that we are positioning ourselves, that we are fighting against inflation”justifies Michel-Edouard Leclerc, who evokes a slight increase in market share in recent months compared to its competitors.
If the general dynamic is due to small budgetary calculations and a relative sobriety in food expenditure, certain emblematic products remain in favor with French families, assures Rodolphe Bonnasse. In a France where “paying for the brand is already an end in itself” to use the words of political scientist Jérôme Fourquet in an interview with Challenges, certain products such as Coca-Cola or Nutella remain powerful social markers. For some of the French, depriving themselves of it would be experienced as a form of downgrading, which they are not all ready to accept for the moment.