Sales in the French grocery market fell 2.2% in value terms and 3.6% in volume terms last year, compared to an 'atypical' 2020, new data from Kantar has shown.
The data indicates that price inflation did not make much of an impact over the course of 2021, with prices actually falling overall over the course of the year (by 0.5%), and consumers "willing to pay more for premium products", according to Gaëlle Le Floch, marketing director at Kantar Worldpanel France.
In terms of the performance of France's leading grocers, Kantar noted that E.Leclerc 'consolidated' its leadership position in the market, seeing its share rise to 22%, while Les Mousquetaires 'crossed the threshold' of 16%.
Elsewhere, Lidl, which has put in a number of solid performances in recent months, has now achieved 60% market penetration in France, according to Kantar. Recent data showed that Aldi and Lidl grew faster than any other French retailer at the start of this year.
Health And Purchasing Power
Kantar's study also sought to determine some of the core purchase considerations of French shoppers as we head into a new year.
If found that even as the pandemic recedes, the core topic of consumer concern remains health, cited by 88% of respondents, ahead of purchasing power (83%).
In addition, 85.3% of consumers are seeking to buy less in order to avoid waste, while 62% say that they monitor expiry dates, 43% purchase short-date products, and 40% buy in bulk.
In addition, close to a quarter (23%) say that they are now using 'anti-waste' apps in order to make more responsible purchases.
As 2022 progresses, inflation is likely to gain more of a foothold, with Kantar estimating that as many as 32% of French households could be defined as 'vulnerable' financially – i.e. they could find themselves in a precarious position if prices increase dramatically.
"For several weeks the French have been anticipating price increases for their food, while media coverage on the subject of prices and purchasing power is exacerbating price/promotion sensitivity, which is already well established among consumers,” said Le Floch.
E-Commerce Continues To Grow
Another core trend identified by Kantar is the rise of e-commerce, which 'continues to show very strong growth, regardless of the format'. Drive format traffic is up 30% compared to 2019, while home delivery is up 80%.
This continued migration to online is likely to impact the hypermarket channel the most, according to Kantar, with hypermarkets now finding themselves "caught between the online channel, local shops, and specialised brands such as Grand Frais, Biocoop or Picard," according to Le Floch.
In addition, around 8.2% of French consumers now place orders with online 'pure players', which presents an additional threat for existing market players.