Household spending 13.5 percent down in January

According to figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), consumers spent 13.5 percent less in January 2021 than in the same month last year. It was the second largest decline ever recorded; only in April 2020 was the decrease in consumption larger. Just as in the preceding months, consumers spent less on services. The closing of all non-essential stores on 15 December 2020 also led to an exceptionally sharp drop in spending on durable goods.

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)
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
' 21January-13.5

Sharpest drop in durable goods consumption since turn of century

In January 2021, consumers spent 25.1 percent less on durable goods than in January 2020. This is the largest contraction since the beginning of the time series in 2000. Households spent considerably less on clothing, transport equipment, home furnishings and electrical appliances.

Spending on services such as visits to restaurants, hairdressers, cinemas, museums and football games declined by 17.9 percent in January year-on-year. This was the largest decline since mid-2020. Restaurants, bars, amusement parks, cinemas, theatres, zoos, museums and swimming pools were closed for the entire month of January. In general, spending on services accounts for over half of total domestic consumer expenditure.

Consumer spending on food, beverages and tobacco was 7.9 percent up year-on-year. This is the most substantial growth since May 2020. Spending on other goods, such as natural gas and motor fuels, was 0.6 percent up. Consumers purchased significantly less fuel, but natural gas consumption was higher than in January 2020. This was related to more heating due to lower temperatures.

Three weeks ago, CBS reported a year-on-year turnover decline in retail trade of 5.9 percent in January 2021. Whereas the non-food sector recorded exceptionally 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), January 2021
 Change (year-on-year % change)
Food, drinks and tobacco7.9
Other goods (e.g. gas)0.6
Services-17.9
Durable goods-25.1
Total-13.5

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