Friday, 16 November 2012

French Life The Supermarket

I am assuming when I write this that most of the readers ( if you are still reading) know the set up of the united kingdom's supermarkets.  Sweeping all before them, creating thousands of jobs, albeit 4 hours a week ones, killing high streets and choking all competition they control the UK retail sector.

They are however competitive, customer focused ( well they say they are) and you know that a Tesco in Inverness will be broadly similar to a Tesco in London.
They open often 24  hours a day, 7 days a week and to be fair are normally superbly efficient.

But France isn't the same, the majority of supermarkets are franchised and this leads to differences even from town to town.
In nearby Civray we have 5 supermarkets, Intermarche, Super U and three discounters Lidl, Leader Price and Netto.

They all open at 9am and, how quaint, three of.them shut for lunch at 12.30 for an hour and a half. All are closed by 19.30. Super U is open from 9 until 12.30 on a Sunday but the rest are shut.
Queueing at the tills is expected, don't be suprised if there are only two or three tills open and 8 or 10 people  in each queue. Don't be suprised if the cashier gets up and walks round the shop to get a barcode or a price if a product wont scan, or if another cashier comes along, float in hand but goes to each working cashier first to give them a kiss before starting work.
One of our customers, annoyed at being in the queue asked why there weren't more tills open. The reply was
"are you retired?" to which he said yes and the girl said, well in that case you have time to wait.

They all have promotional material delivered door to door by the postman every Monday. This is normally a booklet or a flyer with their offers for the week. They must have had lessons from the DFS or MFI marketing teams as they are often misleading. A page will be headed 50% off but actually only one of the products showing is half price.
Also half price doesn't normally mean that you pay half price at the till.  For those that shop occasionally in France  it must be confusing.
Intermarche have a fidelity card which is credited with the discount after you have paid full price. This discount can be spent on another day by telling the cashier you wish to spend your credit. ( Leclerc and Auchan also use this method)
Carrefour  have a fidelity card which money is added to and then a voucher is sent through the post at intervals so that you can spend in store.
Netto have different prices for the same product depending on how many you buy.
Leader Price send out a voucher each week which can be used for discount on a certain minimum purchase
Lidl have normal offers, plus offers specific to Saturdays, and other just for Monday and Tuesdays

The pitfalls are two fold, one, the product you buy must be the same as in the flyer. Just because the coffee you pick up is the same brand, same pack size etc etc , if it doesn't match the picture eg with Prix Choc printed in the corner, it may or may not be the same price.
Secondly the offers are normally limited so you can only buy 3 a day in Intermarche, 5 in a promotion in Auchan, 13 in Leclerc etc etc.  Customers do not always pick up on this as they are paying full price for their goods on the day and perhaps don't check the amount of credit added to their account. Buying a dozen bottles of half price wine isn't so good when only 3 go through at the discounted price.

Stores also use a Bon D'achat , where the discount is added to a voucher to be spent within a certain period of time.

So there are pitfalls to shopping in France and you have to be a bit of a mathematician to work out the best price and not be in a hurry, but they do have great range.
 The fish counter in Intermarche in Civray would put just about any fish display in a UK supermarket  to shame.

 The butcheries have a much wider choice, plenty of duck, horse and different poultry as well as beef, lamb pork and chicken.

Plus there is no internet shopping for food so the aisles are not full of staff shopping and no mobility scooters,

Got to go now, have to go shopping


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