Households spend less in December

The volume of domestic consumption was 2.1 percent lower in December 2003 than in the same month in 2002. This was the tenth month in a row that consumption was lower than twelve months previously. After correction for the more favourable pattern of shopping days in December, the volume was 3.1 percent smaller than in December 2002, according to figures from Statistics Netherlands. Spending on durable goods in particular was down. This was partly caused by the incidental high sales of cars in December 2002, when consumers anticipated the abolition of premiums for low-energy cars.

Consumers spend much less on durables

Consumer spending on durable goods in particular was substantially lower than in December 2002. As well as spending less on cars and other means of transport, consumers also spent much less on furniture, clothes and shoes in December 2003. The decrease was intensified by an incidental factor: the abolition of premiums on cleaner and low-energy cars on 1 January 2003 pushed up car sales at the end of 2002. The volume of spending on means of transport was more than 30 percent lower in December 2003 than twelve months previously.

Consumption down in 2003

In terms of annual consumption, the volume of consumption was smaller than in the previous year for the first time since 1982. Domestic consumption was 1.1 percent lower in 2003 than in 2002. Consumers cut back on spending on durables goods most: the volume of spending on these items fell by 3.8 percent. Spending on home furnishings were apparently most sensitive to the economic climate: this fell by more than 10 percent. Consumption of food, drink and tobacco and of services was about the same as in 2002. For other goods, such as energy and fuels, the volume of spending fell by 1.4 percent.

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