The France retailing market is already mature, and competition among the hundreds of thousands of players is stiff. Independent players are gradually getting phased out, and outlet closures have become the norm over the review period. During the economic crisis, a number of chains also exited the market although independent retailers tend to suffer more from the economic turmoil. In fact, the biggest chained retailer in France in value terms, Carrefour has been struggling over the review period. While it still held on to its leadership in 2012, its outlet numbers dropped considerably from 2011. While the company increased its outlet count in 2012, the outlet number was still far below that in 2010. The company‟s launch of the Carrefour Planet concept was not wholly successful and reinforced the image of Carrefour as an expensive retailer in France. The chained retailer with the greatest number of outlets, Casino- Guichard-Perrachon also reduced its outlet number in 2011 and further still in 2012, signalling the tough times faced by the industry.
The two factors that influenced French consumers‟ purchasing decisions in 2012 were convenience of outlet locations and the total amount they had to pay. As the economic situation hurt consumer purchasing power, French consumers would rather make several trips to a store to buy their goods, paying a smaller amount each time, than make one big shopping trip. In retailing, this resulted in a boost of the drive-concept and in the development of smaller-sized outlets. Hypermarkets registered much lower value growth in 2012 than in 2011, as consumers preferred to do their shopping in smaller channel formats such as supermarkets and convenience stores. Carrefour responded to this trend by converting some of its stores into smaller hypermarkets.
Renewed economic woes dampened the performance of the overall retailing market in 2012 compared to 2011. In contrast, grocery retailers benefited slightly with stronger value growth in 2012 compared to 2011, amidst consumers prioritising essential grocery items over non-grocery ones in 2012. With the stronger performance, the grocery channel held on to its superiority over non-grocery in 2012. The non-grocery channel was on the path to recovery in 2011, but value growth slowed down once more as consumer confidence weakened in 2012. Meanwhile, non-store retailing also started to stabilise, with internet retailing returning to single-digit value growth in 2012 following years of strong double-digit value growth.
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