Consumption falls more slowly

The volume of domestic consumption was 0.3 percent smaller in the first quarter of 2004 than one year previously. This decrease is less than in the last quarters of 2003, according to figures from Statistics Netherlands. Spending on durable goods in particular was lower in the first quarter. This consumption category is usually the most sensitive to economic up and downswings.

The volume of household spending in March 2004 was 0.1 percent up on March 2003.

Decrease in spending on goods halved

After corrections for price changes, consumers spent 1.7 percent less on goods in the first quarter of 2004 than twelve months previously. This decrease was only half of that in the third and fourth quarters of 2003. The decrease was smaller for durable goods in particular. Again after correction for prices, households spent 1.7 percent less on durable goods such as furniture, cars, consumer electronics, clothes and shoes. In the second half of 2003 the volume of spending on durable goods was still as much as 6 percent down on one year earlier.

Consumers spent 0.3 percent more on food drink and tobacco, a slightly larger increase than in the first quarter of 2003. In the three preceding quarters the volume of spending on food drink and tobacco was constantly lower than in the same period one year previously.

More spent on services

Consumers spent 1.2 percent more after price adjustments on services such as housing, transport, hotels and restaurants and care than in the first quarter last year. Household spending on care was pushed up by a number of important government measures in this area, but even without these changes, spending on services would have been higher.

Consumption volume about the same in March

The volume of domestic consumption by households in March was about the same as one year previously. The monthly figures can vary strongly because of differences in shopping day patterns. After correction for this effect, the volume of consumption in March was 0.1 percent smaller than one year previously. In January and February 2004 the volume was 0.5 and 1.1 percent smaller after correction for shopping day effects. There was one extra shopping day in the first quarter of 2004, which had a slightly positive effect on spending in this quarter.

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