First of all I will plead ignorance as to how the supermarket chains choose their locations around the country, but one thing is for sure: in Strasbourg it’s fixed.
What I mean is, the monster hypermarchÃ©s or even the large local supermarkets, all appear to enjoy precisely no local competition. This is either due to the chains operating a cartel (which is illegal and hard to prove) or it is down to the local government planning process.
In Strasbourg for example one chain enjoys almost exclusive access to the Strasbourg market: The Auchan Group (which includes Galeries Gourmande, ATAC, and Simply). No other chain has such a grip on the populaous’ supply of groceries. Not a Carrefour nor an E.LeClerc in sight. The nearest Carrefour is in Mulhouse and the nearest other competitors are all tucked away a in the commuterbelt. (Hoenheim – Super U; Vendenheim – Cora; Erstein – E.LeClerc; Schiltigheim – Rond Point) And even here, these stores enjoy almost exclusive access to the local market too.
Now, I’m not suggesting that the cathedral be knocked down to make way for a brand new Carrefour, but if the French really want to increase their buying power they need to consider that the basic point of Free Enterprise is competition.