French Sunday supermarkets – highly convenient or a ‘dehumanised society’?

French Sunday supermarkets - highly convenient or a 'dehumanised society'?
Photo: AFP
One of the most frustrating things about living in France is that many shops are closed on Sundays. One supermarket is looking to reverse that trend, but not everybody is happy about it.

What is the proposal?

Casino, one of the major supermarket chains in France, is beginning to open some stores on a Sunday afternoon. Traditionally, all shops in France closed on a Sunday. That has gradually been changing and in the big cities like Paris there is quite a wide variety of shops open on a Sunday.

But in smaller towns and rural areas, many still keep to the traditional rules. Over the past couple of years some supermarkets have been opening on Sunday mornings only, but Casino has been testing Sunday afternoon opening as well – with the help of some automation.


It is not possible to buy alcohol on Sunday afternoons in these stores. Photo: AFP

What automation?

If customers want to go to Casino in the afternoon, they can only use the automatic check-outs, there will be no staffed check-outs. This means that you cannot buy alcohol or knives, as there is no-one to verify the age of the purchaser. Generally the store will be staffed only with security guards and an employee to help out people using the automatic check-outs.

Where is this available?

Casino started this in December 2018 in the centre of Lyon, with another in Marseille in February 2019. There is also one in Montpellier, while several of the smaller city centre stores in and around Paris also offer Sunday afternoon opening – in part to compete with minimarkets like Monoprix and Franprix which also offer Sunday opening.

And now Angers is set to follow suit. From August 25th, it will extend its Sunday closing time to 9pm.

“Some customers want to come later than 1pm, in the afternoon. We want to allow customers to access what they want, when they want,” the management told BFM TV.

So the people of Angers are pretty happy?

Not all of them. The decision has been described as “social regression” in a statement released by trade union the General Confederation of Labour, who worry that the balance between technologies and society is being disrupted for the worse.

“This decision is part of a war that no one will win, because a dehumanised society has no future,” argues Christophe Béchu, the mayor of Angers.

 


Member comments

  1. Part of the allure of living in France is the preservation of her culture and lifestyle. In towns of any decent size, the outskirts are now ringed with Carrefour, Hyper LeClerc, SuperU, etc, all anchoring fast food franchises such as the suddenly ubiquitous McDo, et al. Meanwhile, centre-villes (downtowns) are slowly dying, with the individually-owned boucheries, boulangeries, charcuteries, etc gradually disappearing. This is not to mention the growing indifference to the Sabbath that this heavily-Catholic nation once respected. That the convenience of US-style mega-stores and the convenience of incessantly-expanding hours is a boon for those who want or need everything on their own terms is understandable (human nature, I suppose), but I for one am saddened by the 24/7, car-loving direction in which France is heading. And as far as complaints about the use of English, there isn’t anything wrong with being bilingual – but as a US citizen, I don’t expect or demand anyone speak my language; I expect to converse in the language of the country in which I am still, technically, a guest. That should never be unexpected or off-putting. Pardon any misspellings, by the way.

  2. Correct but try explaining that to a trade unionist that lives in the past. Life evolves but not it seems for these people or the ones complaining about the use of English.

  3. Surely, those people who work full time Monday to Friday should have more choice of when to shop at the week-end. Saturday and Sunday mornings there are always long queues at the tills and with time at a premium for working people, the extra hours on Sunday could be welcome. Also, it gives more choice to those who cannot work full time, to have a further opportunity of part-time working and helping to finance their families.

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