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BUSINESS

Shortages in France – which items are affected

The global economic recovery following Covid-related disruption has lead to disruptions in the supply chain around the world, and France is no exception. These are the items that are in short supply in France.

Employees work at an IKEA warehouse in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier. IKEA France has reported problems getting products to its shelves.
Employees work at an IKEA warehouse in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier. IKEA France has reported problems getting products to its shelves. Photo: JEFF PACHOUD / AFP.

There have been no reports of food shortages – or anything else affecting supermarket shelves – or petrol in France, unlike in the UK.

But if you’re in the market for a new car, or planning renovation work on your home, you are likely to feel the effects.

These are the industries currently suffering from shortages, and what they mean for you.

Car industry

Most people had never heard the word “semiconductor” until recently, but now it’s inescapable. You never know what you have until it’s gone.

These microchips are essential for everything in modern vehicles from anti-lock braking systems to airbags to parking assistance technology. But a global semiconductor shortage has put the industry on hold, especially as car manufacturers must compete with other industries including smartphones and games consoles for the chips.

Last month, European new car sales fell to their lowest level for a month of September since 1995 as a global shortage of semiconductors hit supply. Sales in France were down by a fifth compared to September 2020.

The result has been factories on hold and subcontractors having to put workers on furlough, meaning buyers are having to wait longer for their cars to be ready, often up to six months.

French manufacturer Renault, meanwhile, has begun selling its Clio, Captur and Arkan models without the option of wing mirrors which fold in electronically, L’Argus reported earlier this month. Buyers have been told to bring their vehicles to a workshop to have the electric mirrors installed once the components are ready.

Disruption to the supply of new cars has had a knock-on effect on the used car market, too, as more people look to buy second-hand, and fewer people trade in their old cars, meaning you could have to pay more for a used vehicle.

Construction

In the construction industry, disruption to supply has combined with a rising demand for home renovations to lead to a steep rise in prices and concerns over potential delays to building work. If you are planning to undertake building work on your home, you may have to pay more for the job and wait longer than usual.

A study by the Confederation of Crafts and Small Building Companies (Capeb) last month found that 57 percent of small building companies had noticed disruptions to supplies, and 76 percent reported a rise in prices.

Capeb president Jean-Christophe Repon told Libération that “nobody is guaranteeing a quote price for more than six months anymore”.

Among the materials affected are steel, copper, PVC, and timber. The timber industry has had to raise prices by 8 to 15 percent in the past year, Repon told Ouest France, “and even up to 20 percent for timber-framed houses”.

READ ALSO French building boom leads to shortage of builders for property renovation projects

Decorations

It’s not just large building sites or significant home improvement projects which have been affected – it has also become more difficult to find the little things to spruce up your home.

In line with trends in its stores across the globe, Ikea France confirmed to Les Echos on September 27th that 20 percent of its products were missing from its aisles. Of that, 15 percent concerned smaller articles, while 5 percent referred to furniture. The supply-chain problems are reportedly due to transportation difficulties, from a lack of shipping containers to an insufficient number of lorry drivers.

Since the spring, there have also been regular reports of paint shortages.

Publishing

Unsurprisingly, a shortage of wood also means a shortage of paper. Due to the slowing down of the production of paper pulp, the raw material used to make paper; disruptions to international trade; and the fact more producers are using pulp to make cardboard instead, French publishers are facing increased prices and longer delivery times.

“My father created the Corlet printing company in 1961, and he never saw shortages like the ones we’re experiencing today!” Jean-Luc Corlet, CEO of the family company, told Le Monde.

“The prices have doubled. Shipping times have gone from two to eight weeks,” Wilfried Souchet, commercial director at Riccobono Imprimeur, told Libération.

While there are no price rises on the immediate horizon, this could affect publishers’ ability to reprint books that are selling unexpectedly well, RTL reports.

And while the cost of producing toilet paper has also risen, there are currently no suggestions of a shortage, so there is no reason to go out panic buying.

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FOOD & DRINK

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With rising inflation and cost of living, many people in France are desperate to keep their grocery bill low. Here are a few tips for how to avoid paying too much for food, drink and other everyday items.

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With inflation ticking upward, we’ve seen prices rise, especially for things like fresh vegetables, meat, pasta and cooking oil. Even though inflation is affecting food prices less than energy prices, buying groceries is still a huge part of every household’s budget, and unfortunately things are set to keep getting more pricey. 

We’ve put together a list of a few ways you can save a few euro at the supermarket:

Figure out if you qualify for any government benefits

First things first, it is worth seeing whether you can qualify for any existing government assistance, like CAF. On top of this, the French government has promised to set up a food voucher of €50 per month for low-income households after the parliamentary elections in June. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to receive CAF payments in France

Compare store prices

Unfortunately, going to the closest supermarket is not always the most economical solution. If you prioritise grocery stores on the lower end of the price spectrum (and you’re willing to walk a bit further) you can save a lot of money. A helpful tool to find the cheapest store near you is the “Que Choisir” online interactive map (click here) that has listed 4,000 affordable stores in mainland France. 

Discount grocery stores, like Lidl and Aldi, are great options for saving a little extra at checkout. But if you must go to a pricier chain, like Monoprix for instance, try to buy Monoprix brand items – they’re typically a little less expensive than name brand foods.

Plan ahead to make the most out of discounts

If you go online ahead of heading to the grocery store, you can see which items will be discounted (“promotion”). If you cannot find this information online, you can always go to the store and ask for a catalogue of that week’s sales items.

Normally, this is something the cashier should have access to. With these discounts in mind, you can construct more affordable recipes. 

Franprix’s website, the ‘discounts’ page

Also, if you’re looking for cheaper recipes in general, you can always go to blogs and online recipe sites specialised in frugal shopping. If you want to try some French specific sites, you can test out “https://www.marmiton.org/” or “https://1repas1euro.com/recettes/

When it comes to discounts though, be careful about conditions involved (particularly when it comes to loyalty cards).

Sometimes these promotions promise a lot, but actually getting your money back might not be as simple as slashing a few cents at the checkout – you might need to send the coupon somewhere to get the discount, or wait for points to accumulate on your card.

That being said, you can optimise your discounts using several online sites that allow you to combine your loyalty cards (Fidme, Fidall, and Stocard). Other online coupon sites include Groupon, which allows you to make grouped purchases (therefore cheaper), and Coupon Network and Shopmium, which help you benefit from existing discounts. For cashback plans, you can look to websites such as Shopmium, iGraal, FidMarques and Quoty, which allow you to be reimbursed for a part of your expenses.

Make a list, set a budget… and stick to it

It might seem obvious, but when you go into the store, try to resist temptation. The best way to do this is to keep track (in real time) how much you are spending.

Some stores make this easier by allowing you to carry around a ‘self-scanner,’ this will help you to watch your bill go up as you shop. Another tip for this is to withdraw the exact amount of cash you expect to need for the essentials of your trip – obviously in order to do this, you’ll need to know the base prices of your essential items, so it will require a bit of planning ahead.

Buy (then freeze) soon-to-expire products

A consumer’s best friend and sure-fire way to decrease waste! Items coming up on their use-by-date tend to be discounted, so if you plan to purchase these foods and then immediately freeze them, you can significantly extend their shelf life.

Lots of supermarkets make this easier for you by dedicating entire shelves to “short shelf life” items that, according to Elodie Toustou, the head of the “Money” section of the magazine 60 Millions de consommateurs, opting for these foods will allow you to “pay three to four times less.”

Another great way to do this is to use applications like “Phénix” and “Too Good to Go.” These applications will allow you to set your geographic parameter and then click on food stores, restaurants, and bakeries in your area that are getting rid of “panniers” (sacks) of soon-to-be-expired foods. Lots of times these panniers cost only a couple euros.

The trick here is to plan ahead by arriving at the start of the allotted time (if the boulangerie on your corner is offering “Too Good To Go” bags from 11am to 2pm, try to get there as close to 11am as possible for the best items).

Re-consider markets and farmer’s stores

Contrary to popular belief, buying from farmers’ markets and grocers that sell predominantly local products actually can save you money, particularly if you are buying the seasonally relevant fruits and vegetables. Buying directly from a producer can also allow you to eliminate the margin taken by intermediaries. But be careful, this rule is not true all the time.

One way to benefit from cheaper prices at markets is to arrive as late as possible, when the merchants have started to pack up their products. This might allow you to benefit from lower prices or even free items, as they’ll be hoping to get rid of their remaining items.

Know what items are most impacted by inflation

Finally, as inflation continues to increase, try your best to monitor which foods are most impacted. If possible, it might be worth removing or limiting them from your diet – or looking for more affordable alternatives.

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