"We Are Seeing A Non-Spending Tsunami": Largest French Retailer Warns Consumers Forced To Make "Massive Spending Cuts" On Essentials

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Aug 31, 2023 - 10:55 AM

Living in the US has become a full blown paradox: courtesy of Brandonomics, the worse the economy gets, the more praise the incompetent administration demands. Indeed, while most middle-class Americans are gradually and painfully realizing that inflation is never going to go back to pre-covid levels, and in fact in absolute terms it will hit new record highs every month until the economy and markets crash in a second great depression ...

... the admin is taking Goebbels 101 to such an extreme level, repeating the ridiculous lie that things have never been better so many times that people may just start believing.

Meanwhile, as we reported earlier, "Poor Americans Skip Meals, Can't Afford Power Bills, Miss Rent Payments, In Era Of 'Bidenomics'." So there's that. But that's not to say that things are better elsewhere.

Yes, while the US is sliding fast toward terminal socialist (and communist-cum-klepto-fascist according to some) collapse, the socialist paradise that is France is already there, and has the receipts to prove it.

According to the CEO of the largest French supermarket chain, Carrefour, high prices have forced consumers to make "massive cuts" to spending on essential goods, and urged the government to delay a law putting a cap on promotions retailers can offer.

Speaking on Tuesday, Carrefour Chairman and Chief Executive Alexandre Bompard warned "we are seeing a non-spending tsunami in France," adding that "when essential staples are no longer accessible, when people go without essential goods, one must act."

The comments, which were cited by Reuters, which sent Carrefour shares down more than 4%, were the latest salvo in a blame game between the French government and retailers on who is responsible for the increase in the cost of living.

As Europe's inflation shock eases - however briefly - France is seeing less of a drop in prices than many countries due to a surge in food inflation since March after annual price negotiations between retailers and producers.

The French government is eager to get food inflation - more than twice the overall French inflation rate of 5.1% in July - on a downward path, fearing that such high levels will undermine fragile consumer confidence. And while household confidence remained stable for the third month in a row in August - one can only imagine the "seasonal adjustment" gymnastics to gaslight the population that everyone is happy - it was well below its long-term average, according to a monthly survey from the INSEE statistics agency.

Bompard, who was among French retail executives due to meet Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Wednesday to discuss how to lower prices, said he would ask for a one-year moratorium on the application of the law, which is currently scheduled to take effect next March. The so-called Descrozaille law, which was passed in March this year, extends a limit of 34% on promotions that retailers can apply to food items to beauty, hygiene and care products.

Bompard, who has slashed prices to win back shoppers in the face of stiff competition, said that while today Carrefour is free to sell washing powder at a 60% discount, it would no longer be able to do so when the law takes effect.

The law's stated aim was to protect small producers in price negotiations with retailers; however, giant retailers like Carrefour say it limits their bargaining power with large suppliers, and Bompard on Tuesday said the new rules benefit only global multinationals like Procter & Gamble, Henkel and Unilever. Almost as if this was yet another government ploy to benefit corporations at the expense of ordinary people.

"They see their margins increase while the French are in a situation of deprivation," Bompard told Franceinfo. P&G, Unilever and Henkel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Le Maire in March secured pledges from 75 food producers to cut prices on hundreds of products, but a junior minister last month said that only about 40 had made good on their promise. On Tuesday, Le Maire vowed to step up pressure on retailers and producers to accelerate price cuts.

"We are on the right track," he said. "Prices are now falling because we have intervened, because we put pressure on retailers and producers and because we will continue to do so."

"I am meeting retailers tomorrow and the producers the day after tomorrow ... with one objective: accelerate the fall of prices."

Le Maire said he would ask them to widen the range of products on which prices can be cut, and also said he wanted more producers to play ball.

"There are 35 today. I think we can have more producers joining us in this fight against the high cost of living," he said.