Offers on hygiene products in France, including washing powder, shower gel and toothpaste, are set to be reduced if a new law currently under debate is passed.
The ‘loi Descrozaille’, which was adopted in the Senate on February 15, will cap discounts on these items at 34% in line with permitted discounts on food.
Within the current context of soaring prices, many supermarkets have sought to attract customers with ‘two for one’ and ‘buy one get one free’ deals on hygiene and cosmetic items, especially as these promotions have now been limited on food items.
When the law passed through the Assemblée nationale, MPs were hesitant to add a cap on promotions, for fear of damaging the public’s purchasing power. However, the Senate disagreed, and voted the law through unanimously.
The law has been dubbed the ‘Egalim 3’, after previous ‘Egalim’ laws that also limit the amount that sellers can discount items to ensure that producers always receive a fair price for their products.
This is known as the ‘seuil de revente à perte’, meaning the threshold at which products must be sold if they are to avoid making a loss. In practice, it means that supermarkets and other shops must sell items at a price at least 10% higher than the original purchase price.
This is so that they avoid pushing prices down and to ensure that farmers always receive a fair return on their items. It also helps to avoid ‘flash sales’ at too-low prices on in-demand items.
The Senate had wanted to revoke this measure, saying that it “had taken €600million from the pockets of consumers”. However, Senators eventually decided to extend the measure to at least 2026.
Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau agreed with this decision. He said: “To suspend this measure for two years would have been tantamount to burying it completely. That risks restarting ‘price wars’”.
The law is now set to be examined by a mixed commission on March 8 before going back before both chambers.
The new law comes after farmers reacted angrily to suggestions that ‘two for one’ promos could return to supermarkets. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire had suggested the move on July 4 as a means to help consumers with rising supermarket prices.
But a backlash from industry stakeholders saw the idea being abandoned.
Despite this, plans for a trial of a basket of 50 affordable everyday items are still going ahead as another means to give consumers more purchasing power amid soaring food and energy costs.