Proximity Is Back!By Samuel Deprez
The drive-through grocery and its 3,500 stores is undoubtedly the most visible expression of the online food trade in France. Driven by mass-market retailing, the movement has gradually widened to more unexpected actors stemming from rural areas. These have now taken their own place in the “universe of supply” of homes alongside other circuits of sale, sometimes offering complementarity, and sometimes competition, and have also redefined their “territories of supply”. These changes in the use of places of the trade through digital technology are analyzed from a parallel reading of the practices of customers of two stores in Normandy who were questioned in two surveys. The research highlights the various forms of proximity which preside over their development, over their functioning, and around which their customer base is reconstituted. This also illustrates the territorial effects of this long neglected “e-food” development which carries the revival of this business sector.