Consumers still cautious in May

The volume of domestic consumption by households was 0.6 percent smaller in May 2004 than in May last year after correction for the composition of shopping days. Before correction the volume was 2.7 percent smaller than twelve months previously. Consumers have been very careful with their money for more than a year now, according to figures from Statistics Netherlands.

Slump in consumption continues

Consumption by households has been very low for quite a long period now. The volume of domestic consumption has been smaller than twelve months previously nearly every month since the beginning of 2003. In 2003 the decrease was 0.9 percent. The strongest fall was in the second half of that year. In the first five moths of 2004 the picture was slightly less sombre: the volume of spending was 0.6 percent smaller than twelve months previously.

Fewer goods, more services

After correction for shopping day composition, the volume of spending on goods was 2.3 percent smaller in May 2004 than in May last year. The sharpest drop was for spending on durable goods (-4.0 percent). This includes spending on clothes, shoes, furniture and cars. Spending on food, drink and tobacco was slightly higher in May 2004 after correction for shopping days: 0.4 percent up on twelve months previously. This is the first increase in spending on this category since May 2003.

Consumers spent 1.0 percent more on services in May 2004 than in the same month last year. This category of spending has not decreased compared with twelve months previously since September 2003. A number of fundamental changes in regulations relating to health insurance under the national health fund and the compensation of extraordinary expenses for medical care have pushed up household spending on care services.

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