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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Grandes surfaces et prix. Ils ont dit…

Hypermarkets and Prices: What they said…

Translated Monday 16 June 2008, by Claire Scammell

Philippe Moati, economist and head of research at CREDOC, the French research body for the study and observation of living conditions (December 2007):

“It must be expected that distributors will do their utmost to nurture a drop in prices without allowing their margins to be sacrificed. First of all by putting pressure on suppliers, something which is particularly unfortunate for smaller suppliers. This in turn will prompt manufacturers to increase the profitability of their production, by becoming automated, by reducing their workforce, by becoming still more concentrated, perhaps by relocating. The distributors themselves should look to improving their productivity, particularly in shops. I don’t see what prevents them from speeding up the automating of cash registers without turning back to manual labour. There are 150,000 cashiers in France and tens of thousands of these jobs are under threat."

Christian Jacquiau, economist (4th April 2008):

“Committees for commercial town planning gave the green light to the creation of convenience stores and hypermarkets eight times out of ten in 2007. These authorities have never hindered the development of France’s square footage. France is the most integrated nation in Europe in terms of its commercial area, and is the country with the highest prices. It is known that distributors share zones, and if we give them the freedom to get a firm hold, they can not be expected to come down from this position, a position which could allow them to shake up the market. We are facing abuse from a dominant position which is reinforced by the existence of six huge buying powers…If we liberalise, let’s see where we are in two years: prices won’t have dropped and the machine which costs us our jobs will have done its job!"

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