Online shopping in France on rise before coronavirus

Man sits with Mac laptop open for internet shopping
Internet shopping is easy with laptop, tablet or smartphone

Lockdown boosted internet shopping, but figures show it was growing in popularity before coronavirus pandemic

France's recent coronavirus lockdown has boosted online shopping as consumers turned to the internet to buy food and other products.

According to the Fédération du e-commerce et de la vente à distance (FEVAD), retail ecommerce sales in France were down in March 2020 but recovered rapidly in April.

Ecommerce sales excluding grocery jumped between 11% and 21% in April, a total 40 digital retailers told business website emarketer.com. Retailers of tech and entertainment products reported sales gains of 26% to 27%, compared to the beginning of March.

Nearly a quarter of people aged between 16 and 64 told an online survey in April that they intended to visit physical stores less frequently following the pandemic, and 27% planned to spend less time in-store.

Some 15% of respondents said they would adopt click and collect, and 17% would shop more online for home delivery.

Read more: Quoi de neuf - French shopping in June 2020

€4.5bn internet shopping market

The rise in internet shopping for food also rose in France - and has been since before the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2018, 38% of households ordered everyday products online for delivery, generating a turnover of €4.5billion.

By the first quarter of 2020, 60% of consumers opted for online shopping. The Kanter Institute revealed that internet spending was 8.4% higher compared to the first six months of 2019. Over the same period, footfall in physical stores has fallen 6%.

In general, the Kanter Institute noted, the French are shopping less often but buying more.

French supermarket giants E.Leclerc and Intermarché have enjoyed the greatest success online - the latter saw online sales jump 80% between May 18 and June 14, compared to the same period last year. Click and collect sales at the former, meanwhile, has risen 35%.

Read more: French supermarkets recall tinned sardines over glass fears

Shop local online

While major stores are enjoying success, shoppers are increasingly looking local when they venture on the virtual high street. Local online markets, such as Locavor in Romorantin-Lanthenay, Loir-et-Cher, are seeing rising interest. Locally produced artisan food, drink and groceries, are ordered online and collected outside the town hall.

A similar farmer-led online click and collect shopping service - Drive Farmers - is enjoying success in the Côte-d'Or department.

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