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  • 2008/07/01
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Evry, 1 July 2008

The “Barometer” survey readings were reported today to participants at the “Home attitudes conference organised in partnership with IPEA, Sofinco and Le Courrier du Meuble. During the first half of 2008, French consumers varied their home equipment and furnishing expenditure. Between January and June, 24 per cent acquired household electrical appliances, 16 per cent acquired curtains or blinds, and 15 per cent acquired furniture. The trend is particularly marked in the under-35 age group. The rise in fuel prices is having a significant impact on consumer behaviour: 40 per cent of consumers say they are now doing their shopping closer to home, and 16 per cent have decided to put off some purchases (20.1 per cent, for those under 35). Similarly, higher food prices are prompting 60.4 per cent of French consumers to buy more low-cost and store-brand products, 31 per cent to go to other retail stores, 31.1 per cent to cut their holiday budgets and 30.6 per cent to defer certain purchases (clothing, cosmetics, leisure). A majority of French consumers will take advantage of the summer holiday period to improve their homes: 27 per cent are planning to change wall or floor coverings on this occasion, and 27 per cent to redo their gardens.

At the conference, a number of speakers commented on the results of the new Sofinco-IPEA survey and the economic outlook for the second half of 2008. Nicolas Bouzou, Asterès' CEO: “Household consumption expenditure, especially for home furnishings, has been slowing since the start of the year. French consumers are seeing both food and energy prices rising. This saps their morale and leads them to cut back their spending on certain other items. Yet in every sector, even the sectors hit hardest by the slowdown, we see some companies that are succeeding brilliantly and some segments that are coping quite well.”

Christophe Gazel, IPEA's CEO: “Themes that developed broadly in the first half of 2008 - tensions on purchasing power, rising oil and food prices - will accelerate the shift in consumption modes. The trade-offs that households are making in their spending decisions need to be analysed more closely. IPEA, which has historically been focused on furniture, has decided to extend the scope of its analysis to the entire universe of the Home by partnering with Sofinco. The objective is to understand and anticipate households' expectations in order to develop a trade-off more favourable to the markets for home furnishings.” Nicolas Pécourt, Head of Research at Sofinco: “Consumer credit outstandings in France represent only 13.4 per cent of household consumption, compared with 17.2 per cent for the eurozone as a whole. Just getting French households up to the level of their German neighbours would mean roughly 35 billion euros of additional spending, which would be a significant boost to consumer demand and therefore to growth of the French economy.”

For this Barometer, one thousand French households were surveyed in interviews conducted between 12 June and 19 June 2008. Further information on the survey will be available in the next few days on Sofinco's website, www.sofinco.com

About IPEA
IPEA (Institut de Promotion et d'Etudes de l'Ameublement) is the research institute of France's furniture industry. Established in 1979 by French furniture manufacturers and retailers, the Institute's mission is to conduct quantitative and qualitative surveys of consumers, monitor the economic activity of France's furniture manufacturers, and compile industry economic indicators in partnership with retailers. IPEA is supported by UNIFA (Union Nationale des Industries Françaises de l'Ameublement) and FNAEM (Fédération Nationale de l'Ameublement et de l'Equipement de la Maison).

About Sofinco
Sofinco, a subsidiary of Crédit Agricole S.A., is a leading European provider of consumer credit, with 54.5 billion euros loans outstanding at end-2007. It has 16.7 million customers in France and abroad. Through its subsidiaries, the Sofinco group is present in 15 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, UK), as well as in Saudi Arabia and Morocco. International business accounted for 60 per cent of Sofinco's outstanding loans at end-2007. Over the five-year period from 2002 to 2007, Sofinco's outstanding loans outside France grew by 615 per cent.

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