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Selling fuel at a loss: small gas stations angry

The government’s decision to authorize selling at a loss has shaken independent pump attendants, who fear competition from big brands.

By Isabelle Missiaen for Le Point

The government authorizes distributors to sell fuel at a loss for a few months (illustrative image).
© ADRIEN NOWAK / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP

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FFaced with the increase in fuel prices, Élisabeth Borne announced on Saturday September 16 that distributors would be authorized to sell “at a loss” for a few months. An “unprecedented measure” which, according to the Prime Minister, should make it possible to “further lower prices” without “subsidizing fuel”.

Except that not all distributors will be able to afford to sell at a loss so easily. And small service stations, speaking to TF1, confide their fear of facing competition from big brands.

Since 1963, French law has prohibited selling a product at a loss, that is to say at a price lower than the price it cost. A measure taken to prevent unfair competition from large distributors. By lifting the ban on fuel for a few months, the government is withdrawing this protection for small pump attendants. Le president of the Federation of Independent Service Stations, Francis Pousse, fears a significant customer escape ».

“SIf I sell at a loss, I work for nothing »

Many large brands already sell fuel at cost, that is to say without making a profit: they use it as a loss leader to attract customers to their departments, where profits are made. But small gas stations, whose bulk of their profit comes from fuel, cannot afford to do the same.

READ ALSO Inflation: will we soon see the end of the tunnel?

I already work for not much, protests Frédéric Blosse, pump mechanic. SIf I sell at a loss, I work for nothing. I work twelve hours a day, six and a half days a week for crap. »

Small service stations are therefore asking the government for aid to compensate for their probable loss of turnover.

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