The CEO of French retailer Carrefour has warned that consumers were massively curbing purchases of essential staples due to high prices, and urged French authorities to delay a law limiting the size of promotions retailers can offer.
"We are seeing a non-spending tsunami in France. When essential staples are no longer accessible, when people go without essential goods, one must act," chairman and chief executive Alexandre Bompard told Franceinfo radio.
Bompard, who like other retail bosses is due to meet finance minister Bruno Le Maire on Wednesday to discuss cost-of-living issues, said he would ask the minister for "a one-year moratorium on the application of the Descrozailles law", which limits promotions on beauty, hygiene and care products.
The law, passed in March 2023 and due to come into effect in March 2024, notably limits to 34% the size of promotions a retailer can offer on beauty, hygiene and care products. Today Carrefour, for instance, is free to sell washing powder at a 60% discount, he said.
Separately Le Maire, who in March secured pledges from 75 key food producers to cut prices on hundreds of products, vowed on 29 August to step up pressure on retailers and producers to accelerate price cuts.
Of the 75 biggest food companies ordered by the government to cut prices, only around 40 agreed to do so, a junior minister had said in July.
"We are on the right track. Prices are now falling because we have intervened, because we have put pressure on retailers and producers and because we will continue to do so," he told reporters.
"I am meeting retailers tomorrow and the producers the day after tomorrow... with one objective: accelerate the fall of prices," he said.
Le Maire said he would ask them to widen the range of products on which retailers and producers can make an effort on prices. He also wants more producers to cooperate.
"There are 35 today. I think we can have more producers joining us in this fight against the high cost of living,"