In a still fragile sanitary context, consumers' purchasing desires remain very disturbed at the end of the year. If prospects open up and constraints are revised downward, no doubt post-Covid consumption will not resemble 2019. The pandemic is ushering in a new era of more sober and measured consumption. A Christmas 2020 under high tension, in the city as in the mountains.
The reopening of non-essential businesses on November 28 was a return to freedom. Although the constraints of the pandemic are still present, the decontainment plan announced by the Executive on November 24 offers a glimpse of light at the end of a long tunnel of containment. A relief for small businesses, companies, distributors as suppliers, found themselves almost at a standstill a few weeks before Christmas, a period when some sectors such as toys, watches and jewelry or publishing make most of their annual turnover. Even if e-commerce, via click & collect, has taken over from the points of sale, the digital channel has been far from compensating for the losses generated since March. The question remains whether, in a heavy health context still omnipresent, the French will go massively in store, as usual, during the 4 weeks preceding the New Year's Eve.
And for good reason, despite the expected euphoria around Christmas shopping and the support of the French for local commerce - 69% of consumers say they are attached to it - consumption in the Covid-19 era is not quite the same. Also noteworthy is the increase in homemade food, encouraged by periods of confinement, 36% of consumers bring their meals to the office or prepare dishes for the week at the weekend ... Hence the strong increase in egg sales over the first seven months of the year (+15.1% against 2% usually) according to the CNPO (National Committee for the Promotion of the Egg)."Let's hope that this extraordinary health crisis experienced throughout the world will give rise to lasting awareness that will anchor positive actions.
While the pandemic is clearly a long-term and recurring one, it is our behavior and consumption patterns that will have to adapt. We will have to learn to live with the virus and organize our lives around it. This will necessarily impact the places of sale and our relationships with each other. These new health standards will change the way business is done for good. In the future, we will no longer think in terms of square meters or flows, but rather in terms of services and added value provided to the consumer. Thanks to digital technologies, purchases can be made by appointment or online. The point of sale will no longer be intended solely to sell but to offer a space for the brand's community to meet and experience. One could imagine hybrid places that would not be just hangers but would be aligned with the interests of consumers and the brand, mixing product experience, member relations, catering... The recent implementation of the new Monoprix concept at Paris Montparnasse station, which offers a central agora, a space dedicated to local residents, world cuisine corners, takeaways, and a stall promoting arts and crafts, foreshadows what these "stores to live" will be.
In a period where flows must be limited, quality and identity are the primary factors of attractiveness. Whether it is to recreate its own universe, like the Nike Store on the Champs Élysées in Paris, or to build a committed and differentiating discourse, as Carrefour did through its manifesto "Act for Food", a program of concrete actions for the food transition. By coming out of their 4 walls, merchants are making their voices heard and inviting consumers to do the same. Nike, taking the logic of "premiumization" of Apple, plays the card of customer experience and personalization. In its Parisian flagship, it is possible to order online all the products of the brand and to personalize them in the space "Nike By You". This 2,400m2, 4-floor demonstrator of the brand's innovation also promises an immersive and digital experience" for its customers, where they can watch a pair of sneakers being made and woven in 3D. More than a store, it is a true place of identity where the brand's raison d'être is expressed. Alongside these international brands, a myriad of new French brands are also developing, advocating the creation of local value, usefulness if not general interest, from production to the recycling of the product at the end of its life: concepts that are often purist and presented in pop-up stores where packaging and plastic are banished. In an uncertain world, it seems logical that commerce adapts and reinvents itself to meet the aspirations of a consumer who is increasingly aware of his over-consumption and of his responsibility in his purchasing actions, both in physical stores and on the e-commerce platforms of his telephone.If there is one lesson to be learned from the Covid episode, it is the unhoped-for opportunity to align our economic, social and environmental issues.
Post-confinement consumption does not have to mean depression. Desire, beauty or usefulness of a product or service are the driving forces, consumption transforms our relationship to ourselves, to others and to the world. Degrowth can also be desirable. By refusing to be trapped by the marketing dictates of the past, we focus on what is essential, what is fair, both for the way the product was made and the fairness of the price or the salary received by the person who made it. Consume less but consume better, this is the credo of a post-Covid society that is responsible and respectful of itself, of people and of the planet's limited resources. And this echoes the aspirations of more and more consumers, especially the younger generations. The success of the DIY trend, but above all, the performance of the second-hand market, all sectors combined, whose global turnover is estimated to be close to 100 billion euros by 2025, is an example of this. In the current economic climate, with INSEE predicting a 13% drop in GDP, it is not surprising that the French are tightening their purse strings in this period of great uncertainty. The under-30s are particularly affected, already representing almost 50% of the poor in the country.
Under these conditions, the deployment of the second-hand market, the functionality economy, which is based on use rather than on the product, and the circular economy are inevitable. Exit the extreme postures on alter-globalism or the utopia of a return to nature, post-confinement consumption will rather be part of the sustainability of objects, associated with a 2nd or 3rd life of them, the abolition of all forms of programmed obsolescence and the fight against waste to refocus on useful, ethical, quality and sustainable goods. The most enlightened manufacturers and distributors are getting involved. Since 2020, the CEPOVETT Safety and Lafont brands have been offering their customers a fully packaged recycling solution, the "RECYCLOVETT" textile box. At the end of this year, the NESPRESSO brand innovates with 100% recycled textile tote bags made from the old clothes of its employees in stores.
All these examples show that, along the way, the use value rather than the ownership of the object will take all its meaning in the future. If there is one lesson to be learned from the breathtaking Covid episode, it is undoubtedly that this crisis has given rise to an unexpected opportunity to align economic, social and environmental issues. An individual and collective opportunity to reexamine our ways of producing, buying and consuming. Let's hope that this extraordinary health crisis experienced throughout the world will lead to lasting awareness that will anchor positive actions. What will remain of it are more reasoned and responsible consumption habits, if not the emergence of a happy and desirable degrowth.