France ends lockdown: our first look in store

Maxime Delacour
Senior Retail Analyst
@RetailAnalysis

Date : 12 May 2020

On 11 May the lockdown implemented to fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ended in France. We visited several stores to see how those that were closed are reopening and how the new safety measures are now part of the new normal.

New rules and measures for shoppers’ safety

To guarantee social distancing and provide a safe shopping environment many rules and solutions were implemented during the lockdown. With the reopening of non-essential stores and the end of the lockdown, the French government has set up some new rules and provided retailers with recommendations.

Recommendations and rules implemented at stores as of 11 May 2020:

Source: IGD Research *Up to 40,000 sq m as per government guidelines. Local governors can decide to reopen larger shopping centres.

 

Carrefour: reducing direct contact at checkouts

In stores with spacious checkout areas, Carrefour and other retailers have implemented a new route to limit close contact between shoppers and staff. The normal route in front of the checkout has been blocked as per the photo below. Shoppers unload their products on the beginning of the conveyor belt, then move directly to the packing area at the end, using the alternative space.

Source: IGD Research

 

In-store, several employees are dedicated to the picking of products to prepare online orders that skyrocketed during the lockdown. This was a key service for many hypermarkets, as they tend to be located in cities’ outskirts and so didn’t benefit from high footfall during the lockdown.

Source: IGD Research

 

Leclerc: communicating on locked prices and the availability of face masks

Despite a strong ecommerce presence and a good communication, sales of Leclerc large stores were badly affected during the lockdown, leading to a decrease of 0.7 points of market share in April according to Kantar. Intermarché and Système U were the clear winners with market share growths of 1.7 and 0.7 points, respectively, thanks to their good balance of store formats and ecommerce services. But Leclerc is now fighting back and has launched a brand-new campaign, called Budget Renforcé (Improved budget), fixing prices of 12,600 of its private label products. This is one of the most ambitious campaigns among the different retailers who have fixed the prices of products.

In-store, a clear communication informs shoppers on availability. Since 4 May, all major French retailers are allowed to sell face masks. It will be a strategic product to drive footfall in the coming weeks before availability improves everywhere. 

Source: Leclerc, IGD Research

 

Grand Frais: marking social distancing and replacing bulk buy with pre-packed products

Fresh produce specialist Grand Frais has implemented several measures to adapt to the new normal. Social distancing is clearly marked at Grand Frais serviced counters, which is similar to what other retailers are doing. Posters are reminding shoppers to only touch the products they will buy (most fruits and vegetables are sold loose). Finally, bulk products, such as olives and sweets, which are usually displayed at a self-service counter are now being sold prepacked.

Source: IGD Research

 

Gifi: reopening with a strong promotional campaign

Like most variety discounters in Europe, Gifi had to close its stores during the pandemic lockdown as they were considered as non-essential. When reopening, the challenge for these will be driving shoppers back. So Gifi decided to launch a very attractive promotional offer: 50% off (as cashback vouchers) on all products with no limit of purchase. Vouchers are to be redeemed within a month.

 

Source: Gifi

 

This highly appealing offer managed to attract many shoppers with queues building up outside of stores. This will also help the discounter to quickly clear its product stocks and drive frequency and sales.

 

Source: IGD Research

 

Action: creating a safe environment for the reopening

Long queues quickly accumulated outside Action stores when they reopened on 11 May despite no specific offers or promotions advertised. It shows the popularity of the variety discounter hasn’t faded, with the reopening highly anticipated by many shoppers.

The Dutch discounter focused on creating a safe environment by controlling the number of shoppers in-store, disinfecting baskets, and reminding of social distancing measures with clear messaging on staff’s high vis jackets.

Source: IGD Research

 

On the reopening day, most shelves of the store we visited were well stocked including new arrivals in the promotional section. The effects of the stockpiling that happened just before the store closed on 17 March were still visible with several empty shelves and missing products in grocery categories.

Aldi and Lidl: clearly displaying new rules

Both Aldi and Lidl stores we visited provided hand sanitiser at the entrance and posters displaying the new safety rules to follow when shopping. Like most retailers, to control the number of shoppers in stores, both discounters implemented rules limiting the number of persons to one or two per basket or trolley.

Source: IGD Research

 

Aldi is encouraging shoppers to only touch products they intend to buy with clear messages displayed across bakery and fresh produce areas.

Source: IGD Research

 

Looking for more insight?

Latest news, and more insights from French retailers and store visit reports are available on the France hub.