A third (32%) of French consumers plan to reduce the frequency of their store visits in the future, while a quarter (26%) plan to shop more online, a new study by Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) has found.
The study, carried out in association with Retail Economics, estimates that some 21 million French shoppers plan to make lasting changes to their buying habits as a result of the coronavirus epidemic.
The study, which was carried out between May 18 and May 29, 2020, found that more than 70% of consumers consider the threat from COVID-19 on their daily lives to be 'high' or 'very high', while more than three quarters (76%) believe that the government has not provided a satisfactory response to the crisis.
During the height of the epidemic, some 75% of French consumers concentrated their spending on 'essential purchases', compared to a 61% average across Europe, the study found.
Spend on food and beverages increased by 5%, while clothing spend dropped by 63%, and health and beauty spend fell by 44%, according to the study.
'With consumer spending shifting from physical to digital, merchants will have to revise their cost bases,' the report explained. 'Redundant stores could be converted for online order processing; those in city centers for deliveries and collection points or drop-off locations for returns.
'In any case, it will be essential for them to tackle the heavy burden of commercial rents if they want to build sustainable models.'
According to A&M, some 40% of French consumers bought online 'for the first time' due to the COVID-19 crisis, roughly on a par with other European markets.
It estimated that this year will see an additional €3 billon in additional online grocery spend in France, out of a total estimated €13.6 billion extra across Europe.
"Retailers are at a turning point," commented Erin Brookes, A&M managing director and head of retail in Europe. "The race is on to transform models, product offer and distribution channels.
"The objective is to adapt them so that they meet the requirements of a new type of buyer. Those who reach the end will be stronger and more resistant."
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.