after skyrocketing growth, wholesale grocery stores are having a hard time due to a lack of customers

Rund em. Bulk grocery stores are getting fewer and fewer customers, especially after deconfinement. With little cash, many struggle to support themselves. If nothing is done, nationwide, 40% of wholesale grocery stores could close permanently. In Alsace, this already applies to six stores.

For less than a year, Bernadette Willinger has been patiently waiting for clients. In his Wild Vrac store in Wissembourg, there are fewer and fewer of them. “It’s really very quiet”she laments. On its shelves: jars of starch or cereals, as well as wholesale cleaning products or even cosmetics … All this is, most often, organic and locally produced. The goal is for people to come with their containers to help themselves with food.

Such calmness Bernadette did not expect at all after a very good start. “At first I had some concerns. I opened in May 2020, right after the first confinement, and there were no wholesale stores in the area, I did not know how it would be received, the manager says. But the locals responded. “The first year everything went very well”she confirms.

Moreover, the project was close to his heart: “The idea of ​​opening my own store has been in my head for a long time. Once, when I was tired of my work, I told myself that it was time. Six months of preparation went before the opening. Now, in order to attract new customers, Bernadette Willinger is trying to find new products to diversify her offer. Has over 1000 links.

Among the residents, some are certainly Navalny’s followers, but deplore the organization that this implies, as well as the price. “Of course, going to the supermarket is easier and faster”explains Carmen Herbida. “I like the principle and the feeling of volume – ecology – but I can’t afford to do all the shopping here”she continues.

Since the launch until today, Bernadette Willinger’s turnover has decreased by 25%. She clings and holds hope. “As long as it’s not critical, I can hold on. But in the long term, the situation should improve.” His wish: to end his career in his shop.

Other grocery stores had to close. In Alsace, this applies to six stores. A situation that paradoxically follows a meteoric rise in just a few years. In 2015, there were about fifteen wholesale grocery stores in France, compared to 920 at present. 70% of stores have been open for less than two years and therefore do not have enough money to cope with the drop in traffic.

In Werth, Anne-Sophie Hoch never experienced this “volumetric madness” as she likes to say. Located in a commercial area opposite a supermarket, it has a wide aisle in front of its La Cabane à Bulk store. A nutritionist by training, she opened her shop in October 2020: “I wanted to offer my customers something useful”. Here, too, everything is mostly organic and locally produced. “My clients are mostly elderly people who experienced massive spending as children, and young families”.

This is the case of Anna Holzmann, who is accompanied by Emil, 8, and Madeleine, 4. “At home, we try to be as careful as possible. Children are introduced to the environment. We come here every week for shopping and this way we avoid unnecessary packaging.”she said. “I love coming here. I love the noodles and cereal we have for breakfast.”confirms his son Emil.

Ann-Sophie Hoch finds traffic to her store relatively stable, but drops during deconfinement. “People suddenly had less time, and they also told me: “I have to bring my children back to classes, go back to work in Strasbourg…” But these clients are coming back.”she assures. If nothing is done, 40% of wholesale grocery stores nationwide could close permanently in the next six months.

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