Belgian households spent 18.1% of their budget last year on food, drink and tobacco, against 16% in 2018. An effect of the coronavirus crisis and the various confinements imposed on the population. The largest part of the budget, 31.8%, is also dedicated to housing (rent, water, energy, maintenance and other costs), according to new figures from Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, established on the basis of based on a survey of 6,000 households.
This survey, carried out every two years, provides in particular the information necessary for updating the index basket and for estimating household consumption expenditure in the national accounts.
The latter spent an average of 35,209 euros last year (36,447 euros in Flanders, 34,096 euros in Wallonia and 32,057 euros in Brussels). In 2018, the average household expenditure amounted to 35,764 euros in Belgium.
The ratios between expenditure items have changed considerably in 2020 compared to 2018, Statbel analyzes. We can thus observe a logical reduction, due to the health crisis, in expenditure devoted to the ‘Horeca’ item. While in 2018, a household dedicated an average of 2,350 euros to it, this amount was 1,560 euros last year, a reduction of one third.
Restaurants offering take-away meals or catering establishments that delivered meals to homes recorded a sharp increase: households spent an average of 200 euros there, i.e. a tripling compared to 2018. Belgians cooked more themselves, which resulted in an 18% increase in spending on meat, vegetables and potatoes. Food products and non-alcoholic drinks are also the second most important item of expenditure (+ 12%).
Alcoholic beverages also grew, by 10% on average: + 18% for liqueurs and brandies, + 13% for beer and + 7% for wine.
Transport and energy
In the same vein, spending on ‘Clothing and footwear’ and ‘Transport’ also fell, by almost 28% and 16% (from 1,659 to 1,201 euros and from 4,065 to 3,420 euros respectively). Those invested in the item ‘Culture and free time’ recorded a decrease of 14% (2,210 euros in 2020).
In addition to the increase in expenditure on food and drink, expenditure on ‘Housing, water, gas, electricity and other fuels’ and ‘Furniture, household appliances and utensils, routine maintenance’ also increased (from 30 , 3% to 31.8% and 5.3 to 6.7% of the overall budget).
The large share of working from home has also resulted in new spending habits in many households. These were, for example, much higher for new furniture (+ 30%), for household textile items such as curtains and bed linen (+ 20%) and for garden items, flowers and plants (+ 16%).
On the other hand, clothing fell by 30%: households spent only around 900 euros in 2020.
Mobility costs have also evolved: fuel costs have fallen sharply (-30%), while those for bicycles have increased twice as much (+ 68%).
Finally, last year, many more households (+ 35%) opted for a pay-TV subscription, such as Netflix. The closure of sports and cultural sites is also reflected in spending: -70% for concerts, cinema and theater, -36% for sports and leisure.
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