Small retailers seek government protection from supermarket competition in Senegal

During July, a group of traditional retailers attempted to initiate a boycott of French supermarket chain Auchan’s stores in Senegal under the banner “Auchan dégage” (Auchan out!). They claim that Auchan’s rapid expansion will put them out of business.

Speaking to Jeune Afrique, one trader in Dakar’s Castor market claimed “We are losing customers. We won’t be able to survive for much longer if things go on like this.” A spokesman for UNACOI, a group representing small traders, went so far as to claim that Auchan was dumping goods on the Senegalese market (i.e. selling them at a loss) in order to establish a monopoly.

In December 2017, Laurent Leclerc, head of Auchan in Senegal, said that the retailer wanted to build a total of 50 stores in the country. It currently has 19 supermarkets and convenience stores, having entered the market as recently as 2014.

Some take a laissez faire approach to this issue. Writing about traditional retailers on website, journalist and politician El Malick Seck claimed: “Their shops are dirty … The traders never display prices and change them as they please … Auchan will stay because the overwhelming majority of Senegalese have chosen Auchan.” But the government has responded to the concerns of traders, decreeing that all new stores with a surface area of more than 300 square metres will now need the approved of a local government committee.

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