Plastic packaging is increasingly controversial, but overall, the Covid-19 crisis has led to an increase in purchases of packaged rather than bulk products, due to a certain wariness from consumers.
For Les Comptoirs de la Bio, the bulk offer, in line with the group’s philosophy, concerns a relatively significant part of the products present in the stores. “We offer almost 300 references in bulk in our stores. The lack of plastic packaging is in line with our values. We make sure to offer a maximum of products with no packaging at all or with recyclable/recycled packaging. Despite the reinforcement of health measures, such as the availability of self-service gloves or the very systematic cleaning of all surfaces in contact with the clientele, the health crisis has led to a decrease in bulk sales, even in our stores. In order to meet this need for safety and serve our clients during lockdown, we put in place a remote ordering service in some of our stores via a toll-free number, along with assisted service wherever possible. Thanks to these services, bulk products sold better. And as soon as the lockdown lifted, purchases of bulk products have increased,” explains Christophe Choquet, brand communication manager at Les Comptoirs de la Bio.
© Les Comptoirs de la Bio
“Our average baskets have increased by 60% throughout the whole lockdown period”
Like many other retailers, the independent stores of the Les Comptoirs de la Bio group have observed a drastic increase in consumption at the very beginning of the lockdown, in favor of storable and packaged products and at the expense of fresh fruit and vegetables. But the situation progressively returned to normal, and sales have even increased significantly.
“We sell organic products exclusively, as well as local and seasonal products as much as possible. These products in particular have been a real success. Throughout the whole lockdown period, visits to the stores remained moderate but the average baskets increased by 60%. I believe that the human scale of our stores has been an asset in this health crisis context. What stood out the most was a change in consumption habits, with purchases of French fruit and vegetables for example, rather than exotic ones,” explains Christophe. “We now hope that these new consumption habits will persist, and that consumers will continue to turn to healthy and meaningful foods, even after the crisis.”
© Les Comptoirs de la Bio
“We created the brand ‘Couleur solidaire’ to support local farming”
While many retailers have chosen to reduce the number of references offered in their stores, Les Comptoirs de la Bio adopted the opposite strategy. “We tried to maintain supply and all our references as much as this was possible. We did not want to choose among the different products of our producers. On the contrary, we preferred to maintain supply as much as possible. Therefore, we were more in favor of openness than closure, in order to promote mutual aid, solidarity and support. We then set up a number of initiatives to support the local and organic sector, by creating the brand ‘Couleur Solidaire’ and the partnership with the platform jaidelesproducteurslocaux.fr. We also wished to welcome in our stores the vegetable producers forced to get rid of their production by helping them sell their merchandise. In parallel, we created some openings for horticulturists in order to help them sell their flowers. In other words, this crisis has been an unfortunate opportunity for us to show our values,” explains Christophe.
The coronavirus crisis caused some delays on our construction sites, but Les Comptoirs de la Bio will resume the opening of its stores at the beginning of June, with plans to open another dozen stores by the end of the year. “We are keeping up and we remain loyal to our objective of making organic products accessible to all, by continuing to open stores throughout France.”