REPORT. Power outages: “Stoves and autonomous lamps go like hotcakes”

REPORT.  Power outages: "Stoves and autonomous lamps go like hotcakes"

the important thing
Faced with a potential blackout this winter, many French people are rushing for emergency equipment, especially for camping. Report in the Toulouse region.

In Vieux Campeur, in Labège, some shelves are empty at the beginning of winter. “Stoves, rechargeable, battery or gas lamps have been working like hotcakes for the last few weeks, a seller tells us this Wednesday, December 7th. In the same way that the French splurged on toilet paper during the Covid-19 crisis, they are now scrambling for camping equipment. Citizens are in a panic.”

“I’m very worried”

The reason: the fear of many homes that they won’t be without electricity for a few hours this winter. Indeed, with the onset of cold weather, the government does not rule out possible power outages in the event of high voltage. “It’s not our usual clientele, it’s not mountaineers, confirms the employee. It’s elderly people who tell us they’re afraid they’ll run out of electricity.”

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This is the case of Jeanne, 80, whom we meet in the Decathlon store in Escalquens, near Toulouse. “I’m very worried, he confides, three gas cartridges in my bag. At my age, being without electricity will be hellish. Even lowering the heating thermostat is complicated for me… I’m under immunosuppressants and on insulin, I have a chronic autoimmune disease, I need heat. As we know, cold makes the heart weary.”

The eight-year-old therefore decided to anticipate. “I’m buying gas cartridges for my old stove. Just so I can heat something up in the event of a power outage, because I have everything on induction. I also put in flashlights, and I also have a few rechargeable ones at home.”

“We’ve been robbed”

The result: sales of emergency equipment are on the rise. “On some products, it easily doubles compared to last year in the same period, specifies the seller from Le Vieux Campeur. I have never sold so many autonomous lamps, we were robbed. And we sold about fifty stoves in a month and a half.”

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Solar panels are also popular. “Since the beginning of winter, demand has increased. Even if they don’t necessarily buy, customers ask us a lot of questions. The same goes for batteries, which allow you to charge your phone separately. .”

The same story on the side of Decathlon and Castorama. “Usually in winter we sell very little camping equipment, it’s more in summer. It doesn’t stop there. The increase is enormous,” starts the director of the sports brand’s department. “A lot of customers come to see stoves and ovens, says the salesman at the DIY store. And not just the older ones. There are more requests and more sales. The same goes for gas refills.”

Out of stock?

The problem: the goods are starting to disappear. “The concern is that we get camping equipment in the spring and not during the winter,” explains a Decathlon employee. I don’t already have some products in stock, such as stoves for 30 euros, for example.

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Faced with growing concern, Emmanuel Macron sought to reassure the French on Tuesday, December 6. The head of state criticized the “scenarios of fear” associated with the risk of blackouts this winter. “We are a big country, we have an excellent energy model, we will endure this winter despite the war. And I ask everyone to do their job,” he said.

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