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The eco decryption. Hypermarkets: the end of a consumption model


(DENIS CHARLET / AFP)

Auchan is losing ground: the “retail” part saw its turnover fall sharply in the first half of the year. Unheard of for the brand which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. In the process of restructuring, Auchan left China in the spring, which means fewer large volumes. This departure partly explains this decline but it does not prevent, this poor performance is a sign above all of the disinterest of the French for large hypermarkets on the outskirts of towns.

The model of the 70s and 80s has lived. This is not new, this trend was observed before the pandemic, but the Covid accelerated it. TO alone, ten Auchan hypermarkets explain nearly half of the drop in the brand’s sales in France: the store located in La Défense in the Paris region, for example, was deserted because of teleworking, the one in Marne-la-Vallée was penalized by the closure of Disneyland, etc.

However, some brands are doing better. This is the case of those who play proximity. Like Carrefour, for example, which has set up its points of sale in smaller shopping centers, and has relied heavily in its last years on small city stores. Result: over the same period, the first half of 2021, Carrefour recorded an increase in its turnover of almost 4%. What also makes the difference are internet sales. With the pandemic, they have grown widely, including the purchase of food products.

Also, all home delivery systems, click & collect, “drive” take off. And brands are competing to improve their digital services: Casino has an agreement with Amazon Prim, Crossroads with Deliveroo, etc.

With the introduction of the health pass, brands located in centers of more than 20,000 m2 are complaining that their attendance has dropped. Up to 20% fewer customers in certain areas. For the rest, many warn: watch out for price increases coming on the shelves. With the recovery, the prices of many raw materials such as wheat and coffee are soaring.

For now, most distributors have chosen to cut their margins, to preserve the purchasing power of their customers, but if these increases last too long, they will pass them on to the consumer.

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