Downswing in spending on durable consumer goods

Dutch households spent 2.8 percent less on goods and services in February than in February 2008. They particularly refrained from spending on durable consumer goods. In January, consumption growth was 0.3 percent down on twelve months previously. Consumption figures are adjusted for price changes and differences in the shopping-day pattern.

Spending on goods and services dropped by 5.2 and 0.8 percent respectively in February. Consumers cut back on purchasing durable goods. Household spending on this cyclically sensitive category was 11.8 percent down on February 2008. First and foremost, households refrained from buying new cars, but they also curtailed spending on clothing, shoes and furniture. The volume of spending on consumer electronics almost equalled the level in February 2008.

Spending on durable goods decreased for the fifth month in a row. This is consistent with the results of the Consumer Confidence Survey in the past few months, in which consumers are asked whether they think it is a favourable time to buy expensive items, e.g. washing machines and television sets. On balance, answers to this question have been very negative since mid-2008.

In 2008, the volume of consumption increased by 1.6 percent relative to 2007. The increase equalled the rise in real disposable income. Households gained more income as a result of higher wages and more jobs, but they also suffered considerable loss of capital, especially in the fourth quarter of 2008. The value of their shares plummeted. In the latter half of 2008, consumption growth was clearly below the growth rate in the first six months.

Domestic household consumption (volume)

Domestic household consumption (volume)