Will the French’s half-mast purchasing power hurt the annual trade festival? “Inevitably, there is a fear”, recognizes Hugo Larricq, commercial director of CDiscount. The number two e-commerce company in France bets, however, on November 25 to recover the color, buying large volumes very early to guarantee low prices. Because, after the golden era of confinement, the online sales site saw its turnover drop by 15% in the second half of 2022, pressured by inflation. “For now, research
s online for Black Friday are the same as last year”, guarantees Hugo Larricq. In normal times, the event allows CDiscount to quadruple or even quintuple its presence in one day.
30% of French people do not participate in Black Friday
But this year, a strange uncertainty hangs over online commerce. Since JanuaryThe Federation of electronic commerce and distance sales (Fevad) registers a sharp drop in sales of online products: 17% in a year in the second quarter and 2% in the third, despite inflation that inflates the basket of buyers🇧🇷 The year should end in red, a novelty for a market that has always evolved strongly. The drop is linked to the return to normality after confinement and closing of stores, guarantees Fevad. But its managing director, Marc Lolivier, warns that the resumption of growth is not necessarily certain: “E-commerce is not immune to the purchasing power crisis.”
According to a survey by Harris Interactive for Fevad, 30% of French people plan not to attend Black Friday, mainly because of tensions over purchasing power. “The end of state fuel aid, a few days before November 25th, could reinforce this,” notes Thomas Stenger, professor of management sciences, specialist in e-commerce at the Poitiers Institute of Business Administration.
🇧🇷Consumer hedonism is not in fashion”
Second reason for reluctance, especially among the more affluent categories: the risks of excessive consumption and waste, a delicate topic in the midst of an energy and ecological crisis. “Consumerist hedonism is not in fashion, emphasizes Nathan Stern, director of studies at Altavia Shoppermind. The notion of sobriety dominates and sometimes verges on a form of asceticism, minimalism. Black Friday.”
To attract the spotlight, the former eBay star refuses to sell his items in France on Friday and deftly communicates his noted absence. Sarah Tayeb, sales manager, explains: “Black Friday represents overconsumption. We hope to show that there are alternatives.” The entire sector is walking on eggshells, as Jean-Marc Mégnin, managing director of Altavia Shoppermind points out: “This year, the distributors’ investments in communication were revised downwards. Extraordinary performance.”
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Fnac-Darty wants to believe in an “extremely dynamic” Black Friday
Even so, Black Friday, in times of inflation, can be an opportunity for some French people to let go with a simple click, while the internet remains, in the collective imagination, the place for good deals. “We worked with our teams to have offers for all budgets. People are looking for good deals and we are going to have an extremely dynamic Black Friday”, enlivens Julien Peyrafitte, commercial director of the Fnac-Darty group. The share of online sales is certainly decreasing within the group, but Fnac-Darty has nearly 800 stores to offset the trend. A chance, in this unclear period, that many e-merchants don’t have.
So will the purchasing power crisis dampen or energize Black Friday? “We will have both trends, replies Thomas Stenger. In times of crisis, there is both a development of e-commerce, because consumers are convinced that the lowest prices are on the internet, and, on the other hand, a part of the population that can no longer have access to pleasurable shopping.” It remains to be seen which trend will be the most powerful. The stakes are high: according to Fevad, the end of the year represents more than 25% of e-commerce sales.