small businesses have “a new power”, according to sociologist Vincent Chabault

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Vincent Chabault, sociologist, guest of franceinfo, Monday, November 16, 2020.
Vincent Chabault, sociologist, guest of franceinfo, Monday November 16, 2020 (FRANCEINFO / RADIOFRANCE)

Many traders, forced to lower the curtain due to the containment put in place to fight the Covid-19 epidemic, would like to reopen at the end of November. The government should decide in the coming days. But will the customers be there?

According to sociologist Vincent Chabault *, the pandemic and the confinements have probably resulted in “awareness “ among some consumers, “the difficulty and fragility of these businesses which remain modest “. The researcher nevertheless recalls that according to the Society and Consumption Observatory, “30% of French people are followers of convenience stores. These are therefore minority practices, not exclusive. And then there is always a gap between opinions and actual practices “. Purchasing power often arbitrates the choices.

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To fight against competition from large digital players, the government is encouraging small businesses to go digital. Is this the solution? “It is inescapable “, answers Vincent Chabault. But for the sociologist, “not all traders have the same means to digitize. And then, it breaks with their ideal of profession. Did they become traders to prepare packages and orders? I do not believe that”.

The sociologist is convinced that local traders must above all showcase their assets and that they even have “a new power”. According to him, competition from online commerce has made visible “the social functions of the store (…) The store is the place of connection (…), fleeting contacts but eminently important for social cohesion “.

* Vincent Chabault has published Praise the store. Against Amazonization (Gallimard)

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