In 2020, French consumers experienced national lockdown periods, curfews and considerable restrictions to their movement. There were also a number of health and hygiene measures implemented throughout the country to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus in France.
Remote payment monopolises sales in French e-commerce and further consolidated its strong position in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was predominantly through PCs, but there was also a considerable increase in remote payments made through mobile devices and tablets, thanks to the gradual rise of mobile e-commerce in France, even though consumers spent more time at home during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The COVID-19 pandemic drove an above-average increase in the number of internet users and e-commerce users in 2020 as the number of internet connections and time spent online both increased sharply. This was primarily due to an increase in work from home arrangements, as French employers attempted to curb the spread of COVID-19 through shared workspaces, and the increase in leisure time spent at home as consumers remained in home seclusion for much of the year.
2020 was an opportunity for the online-only leaders of e-commerce to make strong gains, as Amazon remained the biggest e-commerce retailer, as well as its main challenger C-Discount which also offers a large online marketplace. Click and collect players, however, such as Leclerc Drive and Carrefour Drive in modern grocery retailers gained the most momentum in 2020 thanks to the increased demand for contact-free shopping methods for essential purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the outbreak of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Autumn 2020, and the prospect of further waves in 2021, the recovery of store-based retailing and e-commerce services is expected to be delayed in the forecast period. France has also experienced delays to its vaccination programme and the emergence of new variants poses further challenges for the country from an epidemiological and economic perspective, as travel bans are expected to hamper the recovery of tourism in 2021.
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