Sterling Shopping: How expatriates in France can reduce cost of living


Hundreds of expatriates living in France are turning back to their homeland to purchase their groceries according to UK based delivery firm Sterling Shopping.

Simon Goodenough, director of the Northamptonshire based company, has confirmed that his company deliver weekly shopping to over 2500 customers in France, sending five delivery vans full of food across the channel on a weekly basis.

“We deliver food from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer, but by far the biggest is Asda,” said he said.

“We deliver into south-west France from Poitiers downwards where it is estimated 25,000 Britons now live. We sit in our depot sometimes looking at the things people have bought and just laugh at the craziness of it all. We have seen croissants and baguettes in people’s shopping bags. And we have delivered bottles of Bergerac wine bought from Sainsbury’s to a customer in Bergerac. We even have a few French customers who have now heard about what we do. They love things like curries and tacos, which they just can’t get in France.”

The popularity for the British goods in France is attributed to currency fluctuations between the pound and the euro. Many expatriates living in France are retirees and because their pensions and savings are in pound sterling they have found the cost of living in France to be a constant strain on their financial means. Discussing this Goodenough said, “(Expats) have seen a 30% drop in their spending power over the past 18 months. In recent weeks, we’ve been contacted by 200 Britons living in Spain asking if we will do the same for them. For example, PG Tips tea bags cost €9 [£7.50] a box in Spain. We’re in the process now of working out if it’s feasible.”

Talking in UK Newspaper The Guardian, one expatriate Nikki Bundy, 41, who lives in the Dordogne commented on the savings she has made through purchasing her shopping from the UK:

“It’s just so much cheaper for us to buy our food this way. I’m now spending £300 a month at Asda, which is about 70% of my food budget. The food in France is lovely, but you can come out of a supermarket here with just two carrier bags having spent €100. I still try and buy my fresh fruit and veg in France, but most other things I now buy from Asda. I also miss my home comforts, such as white sliced bread, baked beans, jelly and ready meals. I even buy peanut butter and digestive biscuits for a French friend of mine. There’s just so much more variety in UK supermarkets.”

She also speculated as to the French reaction to expatriate’s new shopping habits: “I have heard a few British friends saying things like we should be supporting local shops, but there are just so many Britons here doing this now that everyone is overwhelmingly in favour of it. I don’t think many French people know we are doing this yet, so I’m not sure what they think really.”

How to benefit from shopping in Sterling-

Sterling Shopping is not the only delivery firm to capitalize on the demand for cheaper groceries. We found two UK based companies offering a similar service and the operation is very straightforward.

1) Visit the website of the company you wish to use for delivery and register your details.

Sterling shopping

La Maison Removals

2) Check the delivery time and schedule in order to determine when to order your shopping.

3) Order your groceries online with your favorite store or the store that is currently permitted by the delivery firm and pay in sterling using your credit or debit card. Specify the delivery firm’s address for onward delivery to the customer’s location in France. A fee of 15-25% of the value of the goods will be charged for the delivery service.

At present most companies do not deliver frozen food and are unable to deliver English beef products due to French custom law. Check the individual company’s websites in order to determine any other restrictions.

Other firms offering delivery of UK groceries to France-

Expat guide to Paris

If you’re an expatriate living in France and you’re looking for more cost saving ideas please see our expat guide to Paris. It contains everything you need to know about making the most of life in their European capital.

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