SURVEYS show that people in France are making fewer on-line purchases this year and going back to traditional shops.
Financial services multinational PwC says the market share of physical shops has gone up 3.7% on last year and that 43% of French people say they prefer not to shop online, up 7%.
PwC competitor Deloitte found the same in a survey on Christmas shopping in France – only 33% said they would mainly do their Christmas shopping online compared to 38% last year.
It said one reason is people are waiting to get last-minute bargains in the shops – especially the large supermarkets – while a PwC spokeswoman said the “French are still very attached to the experience of going to a shop, to be able to touch the product and have it straight away”.
The resurgence in using physical shops is also thought to be linked to efforts they have made to modernise, including such internet tie-ins as being able to order online for free collection or online services allowing you to check stores’ product stocks.
Indeed, seven of the top online sellers in France also have physical stores, such as Darty, Fnac and Auchan. Now even La Redoute, known for its catalogues and website, is getting in one the act with an increasing number of temporary “pop-up stores”.
This comes as retailers in France are going American by offering “Black Friday” discounts this weekend in a bid to boost sales. The trend has taken off even more in the UK, but this year in France firms taking part include Amazon, which has not waited for Friday and has already been offering short “lightning deals”, with a limited amount of a product discounted by up to 70% for a short time – for example a Kindle Fire HD7 for 99 instead of 139.
Amazon is also promising exceptional deals on technology next Monday, which it has dubbed “Cyber Monday”.
Auchan says to look out for “three days of madness” on November 28-30, with “monster discounts” in its shops and on the net. Fnac, La Redoute, Darty and Apple are also promising special discounts from Friday.
Amazon, meanwhile, has attracted anger over the Channel, where a campaign has called for people to boycott the firm as it allegedly pays its warehouse employees poorly and dodges paying British tax. The campaign “Amazon Anonymous” also invites people to say how much they would otherwise have spent this Christmas on the site and so far says it has lost £2.3 million.