PARIS: Consumer spending increased slightly in France during the first half of 2010, although habits remain somewhat uneven following the economic downturn.

According to Kantar Worldpanel, the research firm, typical household outlay on consumer goods stood at €1,339 ($1,738; £1,115) across the opening six months of 2010, compared with €1,309 over the same period in 2009.

However, Kantar also suggested high unemployment and other such factors mean expenditure is "at half-mast" among many demographics, and could decline should the financial situation deteriorate further.

For example, families with children of primary school age cut back by €2 and are still guarding "the last euro", Isabelle Kaiffer, Kantar Worldpanel's marketing director, argued.

In contrast, young couples boosted their investment FMCG items by €64, a figure reaching €60 concerning middle-aged shoppers.

Food sales posted a 3.2% uptick in value terms and a 2.4% volume increase, as small luxuries like confectionary or salmon, convenience products and national brands gained, while own-label's share stabilised.

The average expenditure on alcoholic beverages climbed more than €2.50 in H1, with soft drinks up €2.20, as customers turned away from out-of-home dining, staying at home instead.

Elsewhere, hard discount chains fell back to the 13.7% share they held before the crisis, as consumers put convenience ahead of price.

Demand for milk, oil and flour also decreased, while cooked meat and similar premium offerings saw purchase levels grow, implying fewer people are preparing meals from scratch.

"It takes time to do this. It was just a flash in the pan," said Kieffer.

Data sourced from Associated Press; additional content by Warc staff