The re-entry under the sign of the Great Distribution

Updated on 19 November 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has affected many players in the territory’s economy, but the retail sector seems to have been relatively spared. Indeed, this is one of the activities that was able to continue even during the confinement. It has even seen its turnover increase during this period. On the other hand, there are differences between convenience stores and hypermarkets. The crisis has mainly benefited stores being located in city centres rather than outlying hypermarkets. This is, of course, related to travel restrictions. There is also a stronger trend towards drive or home delivery. Consumers have effectively preferred this way of shopping to minimize physical contact in stores.

The Retail sector is a relatively stable market from year to year. After a slight decrease (by -0.1%) in December 2019, its turnover stabilized in January 2020, according to INSEE (1). It feeds mainly on food sales. Supermarket retailers have been leading the way in recent times. As a result, hypermarkets tend to lose more and more customers. Regarding the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the retail market, it was relatively measured. Indeed, this is one of the only sectors that has not experienced empty periods. The situation of containment and food stores illustrated this. The French even found themselves in a situation of overconsumption. In any case, retail seems to be a sector of the future, with new trends to follow.

A sector that attracts young people

According to The Director of the IFP Business School and former player of the Retail, Mathieu NAUD, the Retail is a very promising sector for young people.

It is a market that offers opportunities to all young people driven by their motivation. This is the main criterion for selecting and recruiting new employees. This gives a chance to young people who want to enter the professional world and who face closed doors every day. This is all the more complicated in this post-confinement period for newcomers to the world of work.

In addition, the Retail Market offers a real promise of professional ascension. A young person may arrive without experience, student background or a particular degree and have the chance to climb the ladder on their own. This is what attracts these young people mainly to the retail market: to be able to aspire to an important role, driven by their talent and determination.

To enter the retail family, there are different recruitment methods. All as diverse as the profiles on offer. For example, a young person alternates under a sign of the Retail. The latter will be supported from the beginning to the end of his contract. It will be trained while being immersed directly in a professional environment. He will rub shoulders with versatile people, store managers, colleagues assigned to the same tasks as him, etc. A real diversification of profiles!

It is a real circle that is being built, social and professional links that are forged. Membership in the retail sector is thus quickly created for many young people. This market gave them a chance, a training, a trade.

It is in this process that Mathieu NAUD has decided to devote his life to training new young people and passing on this knowledge to them. He wants to encourage them and offer them an opportunity in a market that, moreover, rarely experiences a crisis.

The Large Distribution, little impacted by the Covid

COVID-19 has been a hit by the activity of many businesses. This pandemic has raised questions about the functioning of certain sectors. She even sometimes pushed to rethink the way she works.

For the retail sector, the Covid had little impact. It still had an impact on the attendance and acute consumption of the French over certain weeks. Indeed, we all remember the haste of thousands of French people in super and hypermarkets at the beginning of the confinement. It was a huge wave that had to be confronted with speed, reorganization and precaution on the part of the players of the Retail.

This precaution was then the reason for an almost normal return to the normal consumption of the French. Indeed, the fear of going out caused by the Covid, has curbed the mass attendance of the French in the various establishments of the Large Distribution.

This stabilization of the number of visitors and consumption of super and hypermarkets continued during the de-confinement. Each brand has been involved in a position to protect their teams, as well as their customers. Traffic was then regulated in order to respect the best gestures of barriers and social distance. All this was organized quickly, without ever slowing down the activity of the establishments of the Retail.

large distribution races man
Fear of COVID-19 has held back many people to go out shopping

Towards a trend of local engagement of the Retail

Containment has certainly had an impact of commitment on the part of the French on their local consumption. Indeed, we observe, taking the example of the departure on holiday of French citizens, that they are ready to stay in France in order to operate local businesses rather than those abroad.

This spirit of solidarity was thus consolidated by the passage of the Covid. While the trend of ethics and locality was already emerging before the pandemic, it is only more strengthened this year.

According to Mathieu NAUD, this local commitment favours supermarkets for the benefit of hypermarkets. According to INSEE, “supermarket sales are increasing (up 0.6%) hypermarkets are almost stable (up 0.1%) (1). A statement reinforced also by an article by LSA: “it is the sign of the Musketeers which, unsurprisingly, has been the most dynamic in 2018” (2).

What is needed today to enhance in a food store is the local provenance of the products and the ethical side of the brand without being greenwashing of course. In addition, the social spectrum is increasingly important. Indeed, offering long-term jobs, and putting your employee at the heart of the concerns,… becomes a significant factor in the minds of the consumer today.

With the help of a retail professional and trades expert, Mathieu NAUD, a decryption of the retail market was carried out. It allows us to take stock of a stable sector that is in no way in danger. It is a market that attracts young people because it is rich in professional opportunities. Large Distribution is one of those rare markets whose activity has not been significantly disrupted by the health crisis. However, the latter has highlighted a growing interest in responsible, ethical and local trends.


  1. In January 2020, the turnover of supermarkets stabilizes,from the INSEE, from 28 February 2020:
  2. Food distributors’ review: Who has made the most progress in 2018? LSA, March 7, 2019:,312901
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