Consumers careful with their money in 2003

Figures released today by Statistics Netherlands show that Dutch households saved over 30 percent more in 2003 than in 2002. Moreover, the amount they borrowed in consumer credit in 2003 was hardly higher than in 2002. The total amount that consumers were overdrawn on current accounts was slightly higher at the end of 2003 than twelve months previously. The saving and borrowing patterns of Dutch consumers are in line with the low level of consumer confidence and less spending on durable goods last year.

More savings last year

Private households deposited 11.9 billion euro  more in savings accounts than they withdrew in 2003. These net savings were 30 percent higher than in 2002. The retrenchment of the company savings schemes in 2003 does not seem to have discouraged consumers from saving.

In November and December 2003 net savings were negative. In December consumers withdrew 0.7 billion euro from savings accounts. Although negative net savings often occur in November and December, the amount withdrawn in December 2003 was unusually high.

Consumers hesitate to borrow

Consumers borrowed 3 percent more in 2003 than in 2002: new consumer loans totalled 10.7 billion euro. At the end of the year Dutch households owed 17.1 billion euro to banks and loan companies. Because the increase in the amount lent was relatively small, and the amount of repayments increased, the total outstanding debt rose by less than the average for the last ten years.

Relatively small rise in amount overdrawn

The increase in the total amount consumers were overdrawn on their current accounts was not as substantial as in recent years. At the end of 2003 consumers were overdrawn for a total of 6.4 billion euro, 3 percent more than in December 2002. The average increase in the last ten years was 17 percent per year.

Savings and borrowing per household 

The total amount of savings, including interest paid, rose to 185 billion euro. With 7 million households this comes to an average 26 thousand euro per household.  Each household also had an average 2,400 euro outstanding debt on consumer loans. The average amount households were overdrawn on their current account was just over 900 euro at the end of December 2003.

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