In the first six months of 2007 household consumption increased by 1.5 percent. This is considerably less than the 2.7 percent realised in 2006, and is mainly due to a reduction in gas consumption.
Households are using less gas
Due to the mild weather in the first half of 2007 households have used considerably less gas than in the first half of 2006. This slowed down consumption growth by 0.9 percent point. If gas consumption is left out of the equation, the growth in household consumption was only slightly below the 2006 average.
Last invoice of the year shows savings
The effect of gas consumption on household consumption is most manifest in the months in which most gas is used for heating. The households themselves will only see the drop in gas consumption on the last invoice of the year. The decrease in gas consumption is offset by the rising gas price. In the first half of 2007 the gas price was up by about 10 percent on the previous year.
Substantial increase in expenditure on durable goods
In the first half of 2007 households spent over 5 percent more on durables, such as clothing, furniture, household appliances, televisions, computers and cars than the year before. The growth rate in 2006 was 6 percent. Households spent 1.7 percent more on food, beverages and tobacco than in 2006, which is also a slightly lower growth rate than in 2006.
Consumption by expenditure category
Expenditure on services growing by less
Expenditure on services grew by less than the 2006 average. The change in the way childcare is financed, from 1 January 2007 on, pushed the expenditure down by about 0.5 percent point.
Fivefold spending increase on communication
Households are spending more on services. In 1987 some 43 percent of the expenditure was on services such as telephones, housing, insurance, eating out, and travel by bus or train.
In twenty years this has increased to 53 percent. This is because of new services such as mobile phones and the internet. Households spent almost 11 billion euro on communication in 2006, compared to not even 2 billion back in 1987.
Shift in consumption pattern
Karin van der Ven