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PARIS - Local food shops or "epiceries" in France have decreased by more than 70 percent over the past 30 years after supermarket chains made their debut, according to a report released today by the government statistics agency, INSEE, The Associated Press reports.
Since France's first hypermarket was built in 1963, household consumers have steadily deserted local shops in favor of one-stop shopping. Convenience has also appealed to the growing number of women holding full-time jobs.
In 1966, France had 87,600 small grocery stores, compared to just 13,800 in 1998, according to the AP.
In contrast, bakeries and newspaper and flower shops have mostly managed to stay open for business, the report said. However, many small towns have seen the disappearance of local shops entirely. The study found that one out of every two towns with populations under 2,000 no longer have any local shops at all.
Thirty years ago local shops accounted for more than half of retail sales overall in the country, but in 1998 they represented just 13 percent, according to the study.