2 February 2024

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

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

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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 Trade Unions of French Markets (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 in the process of repaying their state-guaranteed loan, not to mention the increase in the price of raw materials and fuel”lists Bader El Khaldi.

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

“Cheaper than supermarkets”

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

Monique Rubin puts forward several reasons explaining this discrepancy: “At the market, you can buy a single apple, a small piece of cheese, fish for two. We incur far less packaging or marketing costs than the big box stores”, she recalls. As a result, the FNSCMF is not angry with the “anti-inflation quarter” negotiated between the government and large retailers. It is, according to her, a “call to consume only in supermarkets”.

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Even if they enliven the hearts of cities all year round, with their colorful umbrellas and attractive stalls, non-sedentary merchants sometimes have the impression of being invisible. Admittedly, elected officials say they adore them, and not just before democratic meetings, when distributing leaflets and taking the pulse of voters.

“Your strength is proximity”assured Stéphane Baudu, mayor (MoDem) of La Chaussée-Saint-Victor (Loir-et-Cher), facing 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 benchmark that comforts and reassures”added the Minister Delegate for Trade, Olivia Grégoire, in a video broadcast in the multipurpose room.

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