what merchants offer to survive e-commerce

With €518 billion in revenue, 2.1 million jobs and 435,000 companies, commerce is part of the daily economy in full environmental and digital transformation. This sector has been the object of several public policies since the first five years of Emmanuel Macron, between provisions provided for in the law and programs aimed at certain local authorities.

This ecosystem is definitely the focus of special attention with the holding of “Trade Conferences” organized by the government in December 2021. On this occasion, all companies, including GAFAM, were invited discuss the territorial reconquest, the impacts of new modes of consumption, fair treatment and the consequences for employment.

A very political report

During this meeting, four workshops brought together 200 participants. The restitution of the debates was delivered on January 10, 2022 to the three ministers involved at the time: Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economy, Finance and Recovery, Elisabeth Borne, Minister of Labour, Employment and Integration, and Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister Delegate responsible for SMEs.

the gallery just got this very political summary. Four trends are emerging that weigh on retailers and territories: the contradictory aspirations of the citizen-consumer, the concomitant upmarket and discount boom, the tsunami of the digitalization of commerce accelerated by Covid and the presence of new international players with an incomparable force of attack. .

Indeed, if citizens want to express their convictions through their consumption choices, they expect a direct benefit: price or quality, for example. On the contrary, commerce must therefore be able to respond to the specificity of each consumer or each community. Especially as online sales more than tripled between 2010 and 2020, while retail sales increased by 25%. A phenomenon that accentuates the division between centers and peripheries and between regions. Added to this is the attack power of the new international e-commerce players, which weighs on commercial and productive sovereignty.

investments “inevitable and massive”

Faced with this situation, the actors recommend investments “inevitable and massive”, both to transform and digitize companies in the sector, and to be at the meeting point of the ecological transition. Except companies still have very low margins. In addition, they recommend a massive tax reduction as a priority, with an overall tax reduction of around €2.5 billion to €3 billion per year. The objective is to reach 25 to 30% of the necessary investments.

They also call for the simplification of fiscal and urban planning rules and the strengthening of their equity. Even before the Assizes, the federations in question dreamed of converging the taxation of physical commerce with that of e-commerce, starting with the abolition of the tax on commercial surfaces.

Currently, all retail areas with more than 400 m² and with a turnover of €460,000 excluding taxes must pay a commercial area tax. While online sales platforms, which only sell to consumers, are not affected by this Tascom. The latter do not have to submit to departmental and national trade development commissions, nor an impact study, but simply submit a building permit. Actors therefore demand “consistency”.

Strengthening local governance

In another register, stakeholders ask for specific direct support in each of the investment needs through one-stop shops: ecological and energy transition, digitalization and modernization of commercial infrastructures. Or strengthening local governance, with the creation of 300 area managers. They are also calling for the transformation of commercial peripheries through 50 voluntary territories, with an alliance of merchants-local authorities-state.

In this area, within the scope of the revitalization programs for small and medium-sized cities, at least 350 urban center managers have already been financed by the Banque des Territoires (Caisse des Dépôts group): 122 for “Action Cœur de ville” and 228 for “Small cities of tomorrow” for a total of 13 million euros. Of “administrative, fiscal and property facilitators” that operate “goes back and forth between the countryside and the city hall”, need Director of the Banque des Territoires Olivier Sichel. The transformation of the peripheries must be part of the will of President-candidate Macronto start a great program of revitalization and renovation of peri-urban areas and entrances to cities”.

In the same spirit, professionals consider it necessary to facilitate and encourage the use of local digital platforms. “You should first assess local supply and demand before investing in this type of digital solution,” highlights Céline Delacroix, Secretary General of the Commerce Commission of the Paris Île-de-France Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The territories themselves readily admit that the result is “mixed”. “Local markets (Editor’s Note for Online Sales Platforms) that worked are those that were designed for the long term with promotion, communication and animation”, we say to the association Intercommunalités de France.

“Sustainable” support for consumers

The protagonists also defend the follow-up “supported” consumers. By way of illustration, they invite the creation of a government information platform by 2023 that collects data on products offered for sale, adapts taxation in favor of used vehicles and the circular economy. This would also involve ensuring better accessibility to physical points of sale, allowing the opening of all stores, on certain Sundays, throughout the national territory and, in particular, food stores obliged to close on Sundays after 1 pm. a rule called“absurd”, in particular, by Jacques Creyssel, delegate general of the Fédération du commerce et de la distribution (FCD), an organization representing 19,170 companies, including 7,467 convenience stores.

According to our information, a meeting will be held next week at the Eliseu on the matter to take stock.

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