The Big Trends in France in 2022: How has inflation changed shopper behaviour?

French consumers are more price-conscious and cutting back on food, clothing and leisure as inflation pushes up prices
26 January 2023
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Gaëlle Le Floch
Le Floch

Strategic Insight Director, France

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How has inflation changed shopping behaviours in France?

  1. Cutting spend on leisure and clothing
  2. More price-conscious and on the lookout for lower prices.
  3. Balancing affordability and quality when choosing what food to buy
  4. The end of remote working is changing how people shop

Falling leisure and clothing budgets

  • Inflation is primarily affecting how people spend on non-essentials
  • People started eating out less during the pandemic and, despite restrictions being lifted, this hasn’t returned to its pre-pandemic levels. Cumulative Commercial Catering visits were still down 8% at P11 2022 (3 October 3 to 30 October) compared to P11 2019, despite the sector rebounding by 15% in 2022 compared to 2021.
  • Purchases of clothing and footwear have declined. The number of articles bought per person dropped by five compared to pre-pandemic levels and purchases have fallen by 10%.
  • People are spending less per trip on food, but are shopping more often (+5.1% increase in shop traffic for the cumulative to date period from September 5 to October 2 compared to the same period of the previous year).

Hunting for low prices to stretch budgets further

Over three quarters (77% ) of people are swapping to cheaper products (Q3 2022). We see three main trends:

  • A clear preference for brands over private label products. Market share of classic branded products in hypermarkets and supermarkets is up 0.7 points and cheap branded products in hypermarkets/supermarkets are up 0.3 points for September(P10) 2022 compared to the same period of 2021.
  • A rise in popularity of hard-discounters, discounters and outlet stores. Between September 2021 and 2022 there was a 24% rise in traffic at discount stores, with 1.2 million new customers, a 5% rise for hard discounters and +0.5 point gain in market share value for Lidl and Aldi.
  • 42% of households hope to purchase a promotion in the coming months (September 2022, + 4 points compared to December 2021), but only 14.9% of their shopping is on promotions – 0.5 point of promotion shopping in September compared to the same month in 2021.

Spending less on food, but health remains a priority

Although food purchases have held their own up until now, they have not escaped the grasp of inflation and purchases have now declined 0.9% in volume for the total of mass-produced goods (FMCG, self-service fresh produce, and neutral brands) for the twelfth period of 2022 compared to 2021.

There are many reasons for this:

  • Purchases of traditional fresh products declined 5.6% between November 2021 and November 2022. Likewise, purchases of fish and meat tumbled by 13.7% and 7%, respectively, during the same period.
  • A move towards a richer single dish for each meal. Baked pasta dishes have grown in popularity the most since the start of the year and are now the third most popular savoury dish.
  • Although almost half of French households say they plan to limit food waste, they don't intend to cut back on the quality of their meals. Health was ranked just behind price and promotion as the top drivers of product choices in September 2022. French consumers have also maintained a shopping budget for offers on ethical food products. 22.3% of purchases were made on offers of ethical products in September (P10) 2022.
    Concerns about climate change remain top of mind and consumers are attracted by offers of eco-friendly products. Although vegetables and local produce have found their way back into baskets since September 2022, there has been a drop in the purchase of organic products.

The end of remote working has changed how people shop

While some people continue to work from home occasionally in France, most people have returned to their workplace (15% of households have the option to work from home at least once a week, which is around 32% of the active population). People now have less time due to the daily commute and we see this driving some noticeable changes in shopping behaviour:

  • Home delivery has increased by 49%
  • A 7% rise in average traffic for hypermarkets and local shops in September 2022 compared to the same period of 2021.
  • Sales of ready meals and takeaways have increased. Sales of takeaways in September 2022 were up 4.1% compared to the same period the year before.

Big trends in France INFOGRAPHIC

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