Shortages of goods in France: What is expected in the months to come?

Shoe shops are reporting low stocks and difficulties in receiving deliveries on time, while supermarkets say prices have gone up due to a global lack of raw materials

13 October 2021

Supermarket prices have risen for pasta, eggs, milk, tinned vegetables and plastic gloves among other items Pic: Minerva Studio / Shutterstock

By Joanna York

Shoe shops in France are reporting stock shortages due to global delivery delays, an issue that is also impacting electronic chips, cars, bikes, furniture, clothes, sports equipment and construction materials. 

Financial director of shoe shop Chaussea, Richard Sibour, said a quarter of new collection stock is missing in stores in France.

He told FranceInfo: “A lot of shops have not received the 2021 collection, including boots for women, sneakers and shoes for boys. We have shoes for girls though. It all depends on the suppliers.”

While most stores are managing for now, he said “there is a real risk of shortages in November”.

He added: “What worries us with this crisis is how long it will last. We don’t know.” 

The root of the problem is delivery chain issues. While 420 million pairs of shoes are sold in France each year, only 20 million are produced in the country.

Currently, ports in Asia are congested and sea transportation costs are ten times higher than normal.

Frank Boehly, president of industry body la Fédération des enseignes de la chaussure said: “One trip can mean one or two months of delays, even three months. That’s why we have shortages today, and 30-40% of stock is missing.” 

Lack of raw materials impacting deliveries and supermarket prices 

The issues are also impacting raw materials, in France causing issues for deliveries and increasing prices in supermarkets. 

Prices for disposable plastic gloves have risen 5.73% this year, due to lack of stock. Prices have increased for pasta (2.94%) and milk (1.44%) due to lack of raw materials, FranceInfo reported.

Packaging shortages have increased the price of eggs by 3.44%, and tinned vegetables by 3.05%. They are also having a serious impact on delivery timelines. 

Representative from paper and cardboard producer Copacel, Paul-Antoine Lacour, told FranceInfo: “Customers are used to getting deliveries in 15 days or three weeks, but current time frames are two or three times longer or, in some cases, scheduled for next year. 

“It depends on the type of cardboard used.” 

The problem is expected to worsen as Christmas approaches and orders increase.

Staff shortages pose risk for companies 

Difficulties with deliveries are also being exacerbated by staff shortages in the transport sector being experienced in Europe, the UK and the US. 

While the issue has been exacerbated in the UK by Brexit, the pandemic has also been a major contributing factor globally.

Jules Thomas, employment specialist at Le Monde, said: “In many cases they are jobs with low salaries and difficult work conditions, and people don’t seem to want to do those anymore.” 

During the pandemic, he said confinements caused a “stop and go” work schedule in many sectors now experiencing shortages including transport, hospitality and security, with companies forced to “close, open, hire and fire” repeatedly.

When companies have reopened and started rehiring, significant numbers of jobs all in the same sector have been advertised at once. This means that it has been difficult to fill them quickly enough, especially as many employees used their time not working to retrain and enter new professions.

Mr Thomas said that there were significant numbers of jobs now advertised in logistics and sales, particularly in the e-commerce sector, which boomed during the pandemic. 

This may not bode well for the future, he said, as even companies that survived the pandemic may now be vulnerable to failure, especially if they cannot fulfil customer orders due to job shortages.

“That can put their business at risk and lead to a company failing,” he said. 

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