France’s Shopping Malls Going Strong in the Digital Era


Digital shopping and buying are increasingly the norm in France. eMarketer estimates that nearly 31 million residents ages 14 and older will make a digital purchase this year, for example, and retail ecommerce sales are expected to pass $46 billion.

Yet physical stores still play a key role in shopping habits in France. Importantly, even shopping malls—sometimes maligned as soulless collections of chain stores—have many fans, according to “L’Observatoire du Shopping 4ème édition: Évolution des Lieux du Shopping, Regards Croisés de 3 Générations de Shoppers,” a recent report by Unibail-Rodamco, owner of 72 large commercial and retail centers in major Western European cities. Conclusions were based on online interviews with over 2,000 internet users ages 16 to 70 carried out by Ipsos in March 2016.

Predictably, different age groups tend to have different needs and priorities as shoppers. But over half of all respondents said they placed a good deal of importance on the places where they shopped. And all age brackets welcomed the “one-stop shop” aspect of shopping centers: the ability to find a wide range of goods under one roof. Over half (52%) of those polled said they visited a shopping center at least once per month, and all age groups visited with the same frequency.

Teens and young adults (ages 16 to 24) were most likely to see shopping as a social occasion involving friends. Partly for that reason, this cohort was not (as one might expect) the one most wedded to digital shopping. In fact, ecommerce was most important to respondents ages 25 to 54. People in that age bracket were generally pressed for time thanks to work and family commitments, and 48% said they shopped on the internet for practical reasons: to save time by avoiding a trip to a store.

Budget constraints were also a factor for this group—as for the youngest shoppers. In particular, respondents ages 35 to 54 were far more likely than the average to compare prices online before a purchase to find the best deal.

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