Out of 10,000 markets in France, the traders’ blues

On a market, in Champigny-sur-Marne (Val-de-Marne), February 26, 2023.

“In just a few months, chicken breast has risen so much that it is now sold at sirloin price”, says Nathalie Coulon, butcher on the Gironde markets. At the other end of the country, on the covered canal market of Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin), Bader El Khaldi also notes the impact of inflation. “For a 20 euro sweater my customers pay me twice, one Saturday, then the following Saturday”explains this prêt-à-porter trader.

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Gathered for their annual congress in the multipurpose hall of La Chaussée-Saint-Victor (Loir-et-Cher), on the outskirts of Blois, the members of the National Federation of French Market Trade Unions (FNSCMF) spent three days at the end of February , to compare their difficulties, in these times of rising prices and declining purchasing power.

“Some are still repaying the state-guaranteed loan, not to mention the increase in the price of raw materials and fuel”lists Bader El Khaldi.

According to representatives of the main organization of non-sedentary traders, everything would go wrong for the approximately 145,000 street vendors who, every week, unpack their wares on the 10,000 markets held in France.

“Cheaper than supermarkets”

“We stay cheaper than mass distribution”, assures Monique Rubin, hatter on the markets of the Drôme, re-elected president of the federation, congress after congress, for twenty years. Several comparisons carried out by Franceinfo or BFM-TV confirm that food prices are lower in markets than in supermarkets.

Monique Rubin gives several reasons for this discrepancy: “At the market you can buy a single apple, a piece of cheese, fish for two. We incur much lower packaging or marketing costs than department stores”, remember. As a result, the FNSCMF is not angry with the “anti-inflation quarter” negotiated between the government and large retailers. According to her, it is a “I invite you to consume only in supermarkets”.

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Even though they enliven the heart of the cities all year round, with their colorful umbrellas and attractive stalls, non-sedentary traders sometimes have the impression of being invisible. Sure, elected officials say they love them—and not just before Democratic meetings, when they hand out flyers and take voters’ pulses.

“Your strength is closeness”assured Stéphane Baudu, mayor (MoDem) of La Chaussée-Saint-Victor (Loir-et-Cher), in front of the delegates. “I do most of my shopping in the markets, you are part of the traditions”added Marc Gricourt, mayor (PS) of Blois. “A market is a point of reference that comforts and reassures”added the Minister for Commerce, Olivia Grégoire, in a video broadcast in the multipurpose room.

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