After the outcry around the sale of fuel at a loss, the executive is attacking sales at cost. This Tuesday, the government promised “nearly 120,000 operations” of selling fuel at cost price – that is to say without margin – until the end of the year “in 4000 stations”, at resulting from a meeting with fuel distributors. “Some have already said that they were ready to extend beyond” the end of the year, assured an advisor following this meeting.
Gasoline will be sold daily at cost price “in the 750 service stations of Leclerc hypermarkets”, according to its boss, Michel-Edouard Leclerc. The same goes for Carrefour. Intermarché, Casino and Cora will do the same, but only two weekends per month. Auchan and Système U will sell their fuel at cost price at least one weekend per month. For the moment, the precise amount of reductions at the pump has not been specified and will depend on each distributor. But what can consumers really expect?
The geographical distribution of the main fuel distributors in mainland France.
A few cents per liter
Leclerc was the first supermarket to announce an operation of this magnitude, via a message on X (ex-Twitter) of its president Michel-Edouard Leclerc. It was also the cheapest distributor across all major brands between September 20 and 27, according to figures from the Ministry of the Economy. Behind them, other brands like Carrefour have followed suit. “It is Leclerc who – through its leading position in mass distribution – sets the pace,” analyzes Yves Marin, consumer and mass distribution specialist at the Bartle consulting firm. Way of saying that the other brands had no other choice but to follow. These operations are in addition to the cap of 1.99 euros/liter announced last February by Total and already in place.
However, the savings here will not be “spectacular” for the consumer, according to the general director of Système U Dominique Schelcher, interviewed this Tuesday on RTL. “Gasoline does not represent a significant margin for large distributors,” confirms Michel Ruimy, economist and professor at Sciences-po Paris and ESCP. They make two to three cents per liter. »
For his part, the president of the Leclerc group estimated franceinfo this Tuesday its margin at “2 to 3%” per liter, or “2 to 6 cents”, speaking of a “real effort” for certain stores whose fuel represents “30% of turnover”. Depending on the distributor, the gain on a full tank of gasoline can vary from one to two euros. Far from making up for the increase in fuel prices for several weeks.
So why are large and medium-sized supermarkets – whose market share in road fuel was 59.9% in 2022? according to the French Union of Petroleum Industries Énergies et Mobilités – do they agree to play the game? “It’s a flagship product,” assures Michel Ruimy. This could therefore encourage certain households to “consume”. “When we go to buy gas at the supermarket, we often do the shopping at the same time,” he wants to believe. According to him, this also helps improve the brand’s image. “It’s a commercial gesture on the part of the brands,” says Yves Marin.
At the same time, a fear is emerging among certain consumers: an impact on food products. “We are not immune to occasional increases in supermarkets,” indicates Michel Ruimy. We increase certain products by a cent to limit the loss on the price of gasoline. » Faced with this, Système U – whose CEO said he “feared” this practice – announced this Wednesday a 10% reduction operation in its stores from October 20 and 21 and until the end of the year. year.
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