Is French supermarket trend for ‘monthly subscription’ worth doing?

How much would you have to spend to make the schemes truly cost-saving?

Supermarkets are increasingly introducing subscriptions in a bid to save shoppers money (and provide themselves with a consistent source of income too)

As French supermarkets increasingly introduce subscriptions, one retail expert has weighed in on whether they are truly worth it for shoppers looking to save money.

The increased subscriptions come as inflation hit 4.9% in 2023, Insee figures show, partly due to high food prices.

Read also: 15 changes in 2024 for France that will affect your budget 

Cyril Besse, CEO of Univers Retail and supermarket retail expert, has said that supermarkets are introducing the plans as they continue to “adjust their [business] models” to the current economic climate, he told BMFTV-RMC Conso.

Supermarket brands that have introduced the subscription plans include Monoprix, Carrefour, Leader Price, La Fourche, and Naturalia. Casino was the first major store to introduce a subscription plan in France, with ‘Casino Max Extra’, in 2019.

The aim is to offer subscribers major (and usually permanent) discounts on popular products, in exchange for a monthly or annual subscription fee. The brands say this is cheaper overall.

For example, Casino’s plan costs €10 a month, but offers its subscribers a 10% discount on food, cleaning and hygiene products, which should mean the plan eventually ‘pays for itself’. Carrefour’s plan also offers a 10% discount on its own branded products.

From the stores’ point of view, these plans are “a way of bringing in cash and regular income”, said Mr Besse. They can also help with promotions, and in maintaining customer loyalty.

Read also: Leclerc or Lidl: Which is the cheapest supermarket in France? 

What are the supermarket plans? 

The main plans available in France so far include: 

  • Monoprix: The ‘Monopflix’ subscription costs €9.90 per month, €54.90 for six months, or €99.90 for a year. Gives 10% off food, cleaning, and hygiene products; plus free delivery for purchases over €50.

  • Leader Price: Leader Price Extra costs €10 per month, and offers 10% off store-wide, on top of any other promotions taking place.

  • Carrefour: Carrefour+ costs €5.99 per month and offers 10% off 7,000 own-brand items in-store and online (on top of existing offers), plus free delivery for orders of €60 or more.

  • Casino: Casino Max costs €10 per month or €90 per year, and offers 10% off, except on petrol, some specialised items, and parapharmacy goods.

  • La Fourche: Costs €5 per month or €59.90 per year, for 50% off almost 4,000 products.

  • Naturalia: The Fid+ scheme costs €4.90 per month, €17.90 for three months, or €70.80 per year, and offers 10% off all products in-store and online.

Are the schemes worth signing up to? 

Retail expert Mr Besse said that the schemes can offer value for money for consumers, depending on their usual shopping trends. 

For example, if you typically shop at the store in question anyway - with or without the subscription - and if your usual spending habits mean that you would save money overall, compared to your regular shopping without the discount.

"It can be of real interest to consumers, provided that the subscription really fits in with your [existing] consumption habits,” he said.

Mr Besse calculated that, for example:

  • For the Carrefour+ scheme: Consumers must buy at least €45 worth of purchases per month in own-brand products.

  • For Casino, Leader Price, and Monoprix: The amount would need to be €100 per month.

At La Fourche, the calculation is a little less clear, as the discount varies from one item to another. 

Yet, the chain itself states that “on average, membership pays for itself in just two orders”. Of course, this depends on your usual shopping habits at the store.