In supermarkets, costs are stabilizing, however consumption isn’t choosing up | EUROtoday

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In a Carrefour hypermarket, in Villeneuve-la-Garenne (Hauts-de-Seine), March 29, 2023.

Battle of adverts to draw the French. At Lidl, the marketing campaign positions the manufacturers on a thermometer, or compares the receipt with that of E.Leclerc with the slogan: “So who is really the cheapest? » His competitor answers him by placing the logos on the trunk of a palm tree: “Anyone wondering who is the cheapest must be living on a desert island. » In recent weeks, major food distribution brands have been doubling down on inventiveness to let consumers know that they offer the lowest prices, thus hoping to attract them to their supermarkets.

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Because, on the shelves, the inflation cycle, which accelerated in spring 2022, after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, is coming to an end. Prices of consumer products in supermarkets are stable over one year (−0.1% in May), according to data published by the Circana institute on Thursday May 23. And this for the first time since November 2021, even if prices remain 16% more expensive than two years ago (20% over three years). Not enough, however, to encourage the French to consume. In terms of volumes, sales of large stores fell by 2.4% over the first four months of the year (+ 0.4% in value), according to Circana.

The phenomenon worries supermarket brands which have invested massively since the end of 2023 in price reduction campaigns. In stores, turnover is declining under the mechanical effect of disinflation, and the quantities sold are not taking over. “We do not see any change in volumes in the first quarter”acknowledged Matthieu Malige, the monetary director of Carrefour, whereas presenting, on April 24, the group's financial information for the primary quarter, i.e. a decline in turnover of 0.4% in France.

“Degraded purchasing power”

On the cabinets of the 1,726 factors of sale of Coopérative U – the brand new title of Système U – clients proceed to make selections, laments its CEO, Dominique Schelcher. For merchandise “traditional fees [boucherie, charcuterie, fromagerie, poissonnerie…]it's always difficult », he explains. In the hygiene section, some customers continue to buy “detergent, but no fabric softener”. In the sweetness merchandise aisle, “on the most expensive items, such as skincare creams costing over 3 euros, we have deconsumption phenomena”. And non-public label manufacturers nonetheless appeal to shoppers. Sales quantity of U merchandise elevated by 3.64% in 2023.

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