The volume of domestic consumption was 0.7 percent smaller in February 2004 than in February 2003. This was the twelfth month in a row that consumption expenditure was lower than twelve months previously. The fall in consumption was smaller at the beginning of 2004 than in the last months of 2003, according to figures from Statistics Netherlands.
Smaller fall in consumption
Domestic consumption was on average 0.4 percent lower in the first two months of 2004 than in the same period last year. Consumption was pushed up in both January and February by a more favourable pattern of shopping days in 2004 than in 2003, and by higher household spending on care caused by government measures. The positive effect of these two factors was 0.6 of a percent point. Without this effect domestic consumption would have been about 1 percent lower than in the same period last year. The decrease is significantly smaller than in the second half of 2003, when the volume of domestic consumption was nearly 2 percent smaller than in the second half of 2002.
Opposite developments for goods and services
Spending on goods developed in an opposite direction than spending on services in February 2004. The volume of spending on goods was 3.1 percent below the level of February 2003, while consumers spent 1.5 percent more after adjustment for price changes on services such as housing, transport, hotels and restaurants, and care. As 2004 is a leap year, February had one shopping day extra. Without this effect the volume of domestic consumption would have been 1.1 percent smaller than in February 2003.
Smaller decrease for durable goods
The volume of spending on durable goods was 3.7 percent lower in February 2004 than twelve months previously. In January the volume was 0.5 percent smaller than in January 2004. After adjustment for prices, consumers spent an average 6 percent a month less on durable goods in the second half of 2003 than twelve months previously. The decrease in the first two months of 2004 was therefore significantly smaller than in the last months of 2003. Just as in preceding months, spending on home furnishings were under the most pressure in January and February. Spending on the category durable goods, including clothes and shoes, furniture, means of transport and consumer electronics are most sensitive to fluctuations in the economy.
Consumers spent 0.4 percent less on food and drink than in February 2003, and 4.5 percent less on other goods such as fuel, energy, medicines, cleaning products, books and plants.
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