In the first quarter of this year the volume of domestic individual consumption increased by a modest 1.9%. The lowest quarterly growth rate in years.
The slowdown is partly caused by the introduction of the new tax system on 1 January. In anticipation of the higher VAT rate introduced then, many consumers bought durable goods at the end of last year. Likewise, the new tax measures stimulated expenditure on financial and business services in the fourth quarter. These anticipation purchases meant an extra impulse for consumption in the fourth quarter of 2000.
They also meant a lower growth rate in the first quarter of 2001, especially on durable goods. The volume of expenditure on durable goods in the first quarter was down 3.3% on a year ago. It is the first drop in this consumption category since 1995.
Volume of consumption (changes on the previous year)
There was a slump in new car sales during the first few months of 2001. Even if the expenditure on means of transport is not taken into account, the growth rate in consumption was down in the first quarter.
Karin van der Ven