French retailer E.Leclerc has forecast its sales growth will slow in 2014, a year it expects to be “difficult” for consumers.

The company estimated its revenue will increase 3.5-4%, compared to the 4.4% rise it saw in 2013.

However, E.Leclerc expects to gain more of the French grocery market this year. Its market share rose 0.8% in 2013 and the retailer has forecast a further 0.5% increase this year.

In 2013, E.Leclerc’s turnover reached EUR45.6bn (US$62.36bn). Excluding fuel, sales were up 4.7% at EUR36.5bn.

In France, sales were up 4.9% excluding fuel at EUR33.9bn. Leclerc pointed to its “commitment” to low prices. “In a context of declining purchasing power and gloom is not conducive to consumption, E.Leclerc is still the least expensive brand,” it said.

The retailer also pointed to a 63% jump in sales from its click-and-collect Drive stations. Sales reached EUR1.47bn after a year in which E.Leclerc opened 175 stations to take its network to 446.

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