Household spending 11.9 percent down in December

According to figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), consumers spent 11.9 percent less in December 2020 than in the same month of the previous year. It was the largest decline after May 2020. Just as in the preceding months, consumers spent less on services. The closing of all non-essential stores on 15 December also led to a sharp drop in spending on durable goods for the first time in eight months.

Consumption figures have been adjusted for price changes and differences in the shopping-day pattern.

Domestic household consumption (volume, adjusted for shopping days)
Year MonthChange (year-on-year % change)
2017January3.3
2017February2.6
2017March2.2
2017April2.8
2017May3
2017June2.7
2017July2.5
2017August2.3
2017September3.3
2017October1
2017November2.6
2017December1.7
2018January1.7
2018February3.2
2018March3
2018April3.2
2018May2
2018June2.6
2018July2.8
2018August2.6
2018September2
2018October2.1
2018November2.2
2018December1.7
2019January1.3
2019February0.9
2019March1.4
2019April1.5
2019May2.5
2019June1.4
2019July1.1
2019August1.1
2019September2
2019October2
2019November1.7
2019December3.1
2020January0.9
2020February1.2
2020March-6.4
2020April-17.1
2020May-12.1
2020June-7.1
2020July-2.7
2020August-2.3
2020September-4
2020October-6.3
2020November-6.7
2020December-11.9

Less spent on services and durable goods

In December 2020, consumers spent 17.1 percent less on services such as visits to restaurants, hairdressers, cinemas and football games compared to the same month of the previous year. This was the largest decline in seven months. Restaurants and bars were closed for the entire month of December. Amusement parks, cinemas, theatres, zoos, museums, and swimming pools had to close as of 15 December. As of this date, libraries were only open for pick-up of books. In general, spending on services accounts for over half of total domestic consumer expenditure.

Furthermore, consumer spending on durable goods decreased by 16.2 percent. Households mainly spent less on clothing and shoes. They also spent less on electrical appliances and home furnishings compared to December 2019. Consumer spending on food, beverages and tobacco was 6.7 percent up year-on-year. Spending on other goods, such as natural gas and motor fuels, was 5.3 percent down. Consumers purchased significantly less fuel. Furthermore, natural gas consumption was higher than in December 2019. This was related to more heating due to lower temperatures and consumers spending more time in their own homes.

Two weeks ago, CBS reported a year-on-year turnover decline in retail trade of 3.1 percent in December 2020. Whereas the non-food sector recorded strong turnover decline, the food sector achieved higher turnover. These figures have also been adjusted for the shopping-day pattern.

Domestic household consumption by category (volume, adjusted for shopping days), December 2020
 Change (year-on-year % change)
Food, drinks and tobacco6.7
Other goods (e.g. gas)-5.3
Durable goods-16.2
Services-17.1
Total-11.9

The figures presented in this news release are provisional and subject for revision.