A baker in the north of France is letting his customers decide how much they want to pay for their bread in a drive to help fight rising prices.
Maxime Lefebvre, who runs five bakeries in Amiens (Somme) and Lille (Nord) introduced the scheme on November 1 and hopes that it will continue at least until December.
The minimum price is €0.60, however, Mr Lefebvre told The Connexion that most people are willing to pay more than this.
“It’s been a sublime experience, we’re glowing!” he said.
“With inflation as it is and prices increasing everywhere, we wanted to do something for our customers. The baguette is such a symbolic product in France, it’s almost iconic, so this seemed to be a way to reach people.”
The price of baguettes has risen considerably over the past 30 years. Whereas in 1993 they cost €0.56, today even the most basic baguettes are priced at around €0.91, according to price monitoring website France-Inflation.
In Mr Lefebvre’s bakeries, they normally cost €1.
“About 45% of customers decide to pay the same price as they normally do. Almost half decide to pay less. Only about a quarter of customers decide to pay the minimum price,” he said.
‘Some people choose to pay more’
“What is truly heartwarming is that some customers decide to pay much more than normal, up to €1.50. People think of it like a suspended coffee, knowing that by paying more they are helping other people pay less.”
These savings may seem small, but many people still buy baguettes every day, in some cases several baguettes.
“One of our customers, an old lady, comes in to buy four baguettes every day. She says she used to buy them in the supermarket but realised she could save €40 a month by coming to our bakery.”
However although the scheme is rewarding for Mr Lefebvre and his team in a moral sense it is not a pathway to financial success.
“Of course we are taking a financial hit by doing this but shops are suffering all over the country,” he said.
“I would like to be able to keep doing this until the new year at least. There’s a certain scepticism in the air, and if we only do it for one month people will think it was just a commercial drive.
“In fact we have not actually sold a higher volume of baguettes than we normally do.”
The pay-what-you want scheme at Mamatte Boulangerie Cafés in Lille and Amiens will run until December 1.