The Hypermarket Auchan in Roncq, across the border in France, is attracting more Belgians than ever before. Some are even on the road for over an hour to upload their cart here. “They don’t want to lose their standard of living now that everything is more expensive.”
In the parking lot of the Hyperstore Auchan in Roncke, France, a few kilometers from Kortrijk, dozens of people stroke their merchandise forward. The Belgian couple who had already wanted to go to Lille decided to “visit the place anyway” Auchan to pass ”, because: “It is pleasant to walk at night. We’ll just come and do some shopping.” That’s what many citizens think, because for years the store has been attracting Belgians who are only happy to go to the store to buy certain products across the border. Just think about water, all kinds of soft drinks, care products or toilet paper.
The reason for this soon becomes clear. “Some of the products here are much cheaper than what we have,” he always says at the entrance to the store. Sisters Marilyn and Nancy Rondler, accompanied by Fabian of Wervik, push an empty shopping cart forward. “Today we are going for soft drinks! We usually go shopping at local matches, but for cheap drinks, you should come here,” they say in unison. “Wine is much cheaper here,” Marilyn says as the trio prepares to enter the store. “You will hear a lot of Dutch here,” Fabian jokes, while the three disappear into the sea of people.
The feeling of the journey
Finding Belgian consumers in the giant store is not difficult and even a bit comical. Shopping carts crammed with bottles of water and cola really belong to the citizens. A young family, who had been traveling, according to them, for about 25 minutes, declared that they had found the promotions in the store “fantastic” and proudly displayed the bill for 120 euros. “You see, apart from the promotions, we also got a €10 discount on the final bill. And that’s for a full cart! You hardly find that in Belgium, right?” The family still subtly says that you only pay €5 for three six-liter bottles of water by Saint Amand. It sounds like “really very cheap”.
In addition to water, which seems to be very popular, there are also Christmas items on display in the store. “Some Christmas items are already on sale very cheap, but I will definitely be back by Christmas,” says Maria of Kortrijk, who rushes to the refrigerators to buy some delicacies. “Because with the holidays there will be more promotions.” The majority of Belgian consumers come here as Maria from Kortrijk or from Roeselare. But nowadays there are also buyers from Brussels or Ghent, such as Christina and Dimitri. “When we are free, we will come here. A full cart is really half the price here compared to us. For example, milk is very useful. Even potatoes are cheaper here.” and the Chips Those who sell them here don’t shoot fast. The quality is really better. We drive here about 50 minutes, but are willing to pay for it. Now we can continue until the holidays,” they chuckle.
Auchan himself certainly depends on these Belgians. Low prices and attractive promotions printed in Dutch are proof of this, says Flerik marketing specialist Jeno van Uesel. “Auchan consciously chose to attract Belgian consumers and especially the Flemish. Their publications have been distributed deep in Flanders for many years.” According to Van Ossel, “shopping in Auchan” always gives you the pleasant feeling of a day trip. “People have the impression that they have taken back the gasoline twice. It is also true, if they stock enough produce, of course. Large volume is cheaper because the excise duty is lower than in Belgium.”
In the store you will notice this especially in the last lane. In the crowded drinks section, there’s almost a drumbeat to grab a drink case. A few employees, in their usual red work jackets, pull fresh bottles of water almost nonstop. Customers who wait patiently for their empty beverage shelves to be restocked cannot wait to pull their newly delivered beverages to their cart. According to Mallika Bringman, professor of consumer behavior at VUB, this remarkable behavior has lasted “for much longer,” but according to her, it has happened significantly more since the energy crisis. Bringman: “It is natural and logical that people look for promotions and want to shop cheap. However, not everyone is sensitive to these types of stores. But people who usually go to Auchan enjoy being able to get some bargains. So it gives a boost to get Discounts. Many people now also want to try to maintain their standard of living, as everything is now more expensive. So these types of stores are perfect for that.”
This was also understood by two young guests from Ghent. The smiling duo walks with a cart full of – how could it be otherwise – water and cola towards the cash register. We already pay enough in Belgium, certainly in production fees. On top of that, everything has become more expensive, like our energy bill. Someone says, “It makes sense to come here.” “And what’s more, there are also PlayStations here, which are already sold out in some Belgian stores,” notes the other. Are PlayStations also cheaper in Auchan? “Unfortunately no”.
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