Only six months ago, Dominique Schelcher, president of System U, uttered a cry from the heart at the LSA Congress of trade negotiations: “We have had a bad time in 2019, the year of” distribashing “.” Remember: pointed out by the “yellow vests” as by the ecologists aspiring to a healthier, local and digital consumption, the large distribution felt unloved. The banners of the large hypermarkets Auchan, Carrefour and Casino, strongly challenged by pure players and specialists, and damaged by the price war, were linked to sales of stores, sales of subsidiaries and social plans. The weather was stormy.
But the tide has turned. Ever since the health crisis began, Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire has been calling the bosses of the agrifood sector every day. The French applaud the cashiers and wait in the queues outside the stores. Large retailers have regained their letters of nobility. “We have always been among the favorite companies of the French, according to the barometer Posternak Ifop, shade Jacques Creyssel, president of the Federation of trade and distribution. And, according to the last study of the Obsoco, our rating of love was higher than that of banking and insurance, and equivalent to that of the food industry. “
It prevents. Store counters exploded. The week before the containment was announced on Monday, March 16, sales of fresh and consumer products reached a record 38% increase over last year, according to Nielsen. With an incredible 237% for the famous Monday. In addition to storage behavior, “there is a postponement of catering outside the home, notes Jacques Creyssel. Some 16 million children and students no longer eat in canteens or U restaurants, 8 million employees telework and more 2 million are part-time unemployed. Added to this is the closing of the markets. “
74% more for the drive
“There is a disparity depending on the formats,” said Daniel Ducrocq, director of distribution service in Nielsen, however. By publishing its annual results on March 26, the Casino group announced “an unprecedented demand for its size”, adding that “proximity formats and e-commerce are particularly in demand”. According to Nielsen, sales of home delivery exploded by 90% the week of March 16, and those of the drive by 74%. In third place, proximity increased by 62% in the city, 74% in the countryside. “People tend to go to the store closest to their home and prefer small areas to avoid contact with other people,” says Daniel Ducrocq.
Conversely, growth in hypermarkets remains modest, at 3%. “After the peak traffic outside the norm just before confinement, and a lot of storage behavior, traffic has regulated,” confirms Marie Cheval, hypermarket director at Carrefour France.
Could the epidemic permanently change behavior? It is still too early to say. “However, we believe that this will accelerate the development of e-commerce, which weighed 7.5% of sales before containment, and should represent 8% to 9% now, believes Daniel Ducrocq, before warning: it is It’s clear that 2020 will probably be the best year for large retailers since we measured. ” No “distribashing” in sight.