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Supermarkets in France to send fewer paper promo catalogues

E.Leclerc and Carrefour are among the major brands set to reduce paper usage, citing environmental reasons and the rising cost

A photo of colourful flyers stuffed into letterboxes

Major supermarket brands have pledged to reduce the amount of flyers sent through people’s letterboxes Pic: KYNA STUDIO / Shutterstock

People in France are to receive fewer paper catalogues and adverts through their letterboxes in 2023, as several major supermarkets and brands pledge to stop sending them.

Brands including E.Leclerc, Carrefour, Monoprix, Franprix, and Cora have said that they will stop or reduce the number of paper promotional catalogues being sent.

Typically, many brands still send paper brochures, catalogues, and special offers through customers’ doors. In 2019, more than 20 billion were sent in France, according to a study by digital marketing company Bonial.

But this week, the head of E.Leclerc, Michel-Edouard Leclerc, announced that the group would stop sending paper catalogues by September 2023.

In Le Parisien newspaper, he wrote: “This is a decision by all the stores, by the entire group, which will save us 50,000 tons of paper per year, the equivalent of eight times the weight of the Eiffel Tower! This is a real revolution, which means we are moving towards a joint project for a low-carbon economy.”

A few days earlier, the Cora group also announced that it would completely stop sending paper catalogues in letterboxes and in its 60 hypermarket sites from January 10, 2023. Franprix and Monoprix had already made the move, and got rid of paper catalogues in 2019.

Carrefour has also pledged to send far fewer paper items. Since January 2022, the group has not sent paper catalogues in Paris, Lyon, and Villeurbanne. Its CEO Alexandre Bompard said that 80% of its marketing would be digital by 2024.

Auchan has also said that it is reducing the amount of paper being sent. 

In contrast, Système U said that it would continue sending paper catalogues, and leave the choice of whether to opt out “to the client”, the company president told BFMTV.

Read also: New ‘opt in’ stickers trialled in France to reduce junk mail waste

Reduce waste and save costs

The measure by most supermarket brands is intended to help reduce paper waste.

Mr Leclerc told FranceInfo this week: “Very few people express their wish to receive paper catalogues, and l'Ademe [ecological agency l’Agence de la transition écologique] says that 40% of them end up in the bin [before they are even read].”

The rising cost of paper is also a factor. The director general of Cora said that the price of paper has “gone from €400 to €1,200 per tonne” in two years.

Paper to stop but promos to continue

Mr Leclerc said that the end of paper catalogues “does not mean the end of promotions”. He said: “We must make it clear to people that stopping catalogues does not mean stopping commercial operations.”

Consumers will still be able to look at catalogues online, he said, via the E.Leclerc app or website, and via email newsletters.

The company also plans to communicate more via social media and make deals and offers more obvious in stores.

Customers who still want paper catalogues will be able to find “a few copies” of the leaflets in-store, Mr Leclerc said.

Related articles 

Plan to make letterbox flyers in France 'opt in' rather than 'opt out' 

15 areas of France stop getting letterbox flyers unless locals opt in

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