Wednesday, February 11

Small is beautiful: Smarkets

Out with the big and in with the small, french retail giants are discovering the beauty of convenience stores. They want their stores to appeal to urban dwellers and city workers.

Carrefour City

Carrefour opened its first of four Carrefour City pilot stores last month in Paris' 16th arrondissement. The store is split into two areas, everyday convenience items and essentials. Other retailers are following such as Système U with U Express. The most interesting initiative however might be coming from the association of Relay and Casino with "Chez Jean" where you can get newspapers, flowers, bread but also free internet access.

This could be bad news for the french 'Bureau de Tabac' and authentic 'Epiciers de nuit', according to Alexis Roux de Bézieux, author of "L'Arabe du coin" (éditions Dilecta), "50% are close to be sold". The 'Epicier de nuit' in France is the equivalent of the corner store open 24/7, with high prices and everything from cigarettes to nappies and pride themselves to be the social bone of a neighbourhood.

So why is the trend picking up?
People want proximity and conviviality: the hyper/super markets models is no longer relevant to the modern consumer. Let's hope the new concept will bring to 'la vie de quartier', a personalised service, hospitality and adaptability.

See also rue89 (in french) and Comme des garcons pocket store

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