French Supermarkets Pioneer Cost-Price Fuel Sales in Bid to Ease Consumer Burden

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In an unprecedented move aimed at alleviating the financial strain on consumers, France’s two leading supermarket chains, Carrefour and E.Leclerc, have announced they will commence selling fuel at cost price. This strategic decision comes ahead of a crucial meeting between the government and fuel retailers.

E.Leclerc, which engaged in a similar initiative during summer weekends, has now extended this offer to seven days a week beginning from Friday. Carrefour has followed suit by pledging to maintain this practice until the end of the year.

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In a statement released on the social media platform known previously as Twitter, Carrefour described the initiative as “the largest cost-price fuel sales operation in our history”. E.Leclerc’s president, Michel-Edouard Leclerc, underscored that this was an “act of solidarity with all customers alarmed by the price increases”, noting the significant impact of these hikes on consumer purchasing power.

Signifying solidarity in the movement, France’s fourth-largest supermarket group, Systeme U, also declared its commitment to sell fuel at cost price starting October, albeit only on some weekends. The company cited financial limitations that prohibit it from adopting this pricing strategy on a daily basis. Dominique Schelcher, Chief Executive of the company, revealed that the average margins on fuel were about two euro cents per litre.

In line with these developments, French President, Emmanuel Macron, announced that he would request the fuel industry to sell at cost price and distribute 100 euro grants to the country’s most disadvantaged workers who commute to work. The President revealed plans to hold a meeting this week with industry representatives to discuss a no-profit approach to fuel sales.

This proposition of selling fuel at a loss has been met with pushback from distributors, despite the government’s consideration of modifying regulations to accommodate such a scenario. Even though the announcement represents a significant stride in the fight against the rise in living costs, its long-term feasibility and acceptance among all stakeholders remains uncertain.