French Online Retail Sales Could Rise Despite 'Gilets Jaunes': Fevad

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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French Online Retail Sales Could Rise Despite 'Gilets Jaunes': Fevad

Online retail sales in France could top €100 billion this year, despite fears of slower consumer spending due to anti-government gilet jaune (yellow-vest) protests rocking the country, the country's e-commerce federation (Fevad) reported on Tuesday.

In 2018 alone, the French spent €92.6 billion online – a year-on-year rise of 13.4% – although the protests in November and December took their toll, knocking around €600 million off revenue.

Inner Momentum

"In 2018, in a climate not exactly supportive for consumers, the sector proved resilient, thanks to its inner momentum. This momentum should allow it to exceed the €100 billion mark in 2019, in spite of uncertainties over household consumption," Fevad director general Marc Lolivier said by telephone.

"If consumption slows in 2019, it's bound to also impact e-commerce. The people who shop in stores also buy online. When morale is low, people don't feel like spending," Lolivier added.

The French finance ministry has estimated that the protests, named after the high-visibility vests that French motorists must keep in their cars, knocked 0.1% off growth in the final three months of 2018.


Household spending – traditionally the motor of French growth – slowed to a standstill in the fourth quarter, after expanding 0.4% in the previous three months, data from the INSEE statistics agency showed last week.

Average Basket Value Down

As in past years, online retail sector growth came as the number of online vendors increased and people turned to the Internet and mobile phones to shop more often, noted the Fevad organisation.

The average value of a basket of purchased goods declined by €5, to €60, in 2018, extending a trend that started in 2012. This has arisen as shoppers increasingly buy routine goods online and also use popular mobile shopping apps such as AliExpress or Wish, which offer cheap items from China.

There was, however, an increase in the frequency of purchases, with a record 1.5 billion online transactions in 2018, marking a 20.7% rise from 2017.


Three of the most-visited e-commerce websites in France are Amazon, Cdiscount – owned by French retailer Casino – and book and CD retail chain Fnac-Darty.

In 2018, e-commerce represented 9.7% of overall French retail sales, against 8.7% in 2017.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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