Growth, unemployment, inflation, consumption… Where is France in 2024?

According to the latest figures published by INSEE, France’s economic situation tends to improve slightly compared to initial estimates. But caution remains in order, especially since a real resumption of activity is still far from being achieved.

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+0.2%. This is the level of growth recorded during the first quarter of 2024. A relatively low figure, but which nevertheless corresponds to the upper range of INSEE forecasts, which initially expected stagnation in the economy. Relatively good news therefore, which did not leave the Minister of Economy and Finance indifferent. “ To all those who want to believe that our economy is at a standstill: the facts are stubborn. French growth is progressing. This is a new sign that reflects the solidity of our economy », immediately reacted Bruno Le Maire.

Target 1% growth in 2024

Following the publication of these figures, the growth objective of 1% for the year 2024 thus becomes achievable. To achieve this, the government is banking on a recovery in consumption, which has already been slightly felt since the start of the year. French household consumption thus increased by 0.4% during the first quarter of 2024. The slowdown in inflation is not unrelated to this improvement. Consumer prices rose just 2.2% year-on-year in April. And importantly, food prices are starting to stagnate, with a limited increase over one year of 1.2%.

On the employment front, the situation is also still good, with an unemployment rate remaining at 7.5% of the active population, the same level as at the end of 2023. Finally, despite the conditions of credit still restrictive, business investment unexpectedly rebounded by 0.3% in the first quarter of 2024.

Concern around the activity of traders

If the macroeconomic data are overall rather reassuring, traders are still waiting for this rebound in activity. And for good reason, since the start of the year, only the month of March has been positive for commerce, while fixed costs (energy and rent in particular) have continued to increase throughout this period.

For the moment, the announced resumption of activity is still pending for us. Even if it is slowing down, inflation is still present in the minds of our clients, we all see it on a daily basis, regardless of the sector of activity », Testifies Mickael, manager of a bar/restaurant in Marseille. An observation also shared by INSEE economists, the latest confidence surveys showing that the French have not really regained their morale and are still displaying high savings intentions. The French savings rate thus reaches 18% of their disposable income, one of the highest rates in the world!

The resumption of activity, and in particular that of traders, will therefore necessarily involve a lowering of this savings rate, and therefore greater spending on the part of the French. A windfall which would be welcome, particularly as the summer season approaches, where we are already announcing a very strong tourist influx in France, driven by the Olympic Games in August. All eyes are therefore already on the future.

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