Sales in French supermarkets fell 1.9% in December compared to the same month of the previous year, while hypermarket sales fell1.3%.

The FCD French retailers’ federation said that the fact there was one fewer Saturday in December 2002 compared to December 2001 had an adverse effect on sales.

The FCD also said that Christmas shopping began earlier in 2002, due in part to special promotions.

For the full year, supermarket sales were up 2.0%, while hypermarket sales increased by 1.3%, reported Reuters.