The volume of domestic consumption by households was 0.1 percent lower in January than in the same month last year. In the second half of 2003 consumers spent nearly 2 percent less than twelve months previously, according to figures form Statistics Netherlands.
The development of consumption in January was partly caused by the more favourable pattern of shopping days and the consequences of policy measures in the care sector. Without these effects consumption would have been half of a percent point lower in January. Even then, though, it would still be lower than in the preceding months.
Smaller decrease for goods consumption
The development of consumption in January 2004 was pushed upwards by a difference in the composition of shopping days compared with January last year. This year January had one Saturday more and Wednesday fewer than last year. This mainly had an effect on the consumption of goods. Taking price changes into account, consumers spent 1.2 percent less on goods than in January last year. After correction for the shopping day effect consumers spent 1.6 percent less on goods. This decrease is significantly smaller than in the second half of 2003, when after adjusting for price changes consumers spent 3.5 percent less on goods.
Spending on services was 1.1 percent higher than twelve months previously. In this category the composition of shopping days has a smaller effect than in the goods category.
Policy measures push up consumption of services
Not only the composition of shopping days compared with January 2003 had an upwards effect on spending. As a consequence of a number of policy measures in the care sector, there was a shift from consumption by the government to consumption by households. As from 1 January 2004 households are having to pay more for medical and welfare care. This pushed up household consumption of services in particular.
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