Spending power: 71% of Belgians ‘doing fine’

Consumers’ organisation Test Aankoop has published the findings of its latest barometer on Belgians’ spending power.  It shows that despite the pandemic most households indicate that they are having less trouble paying the bills than a year ago.  Seven out of ten people aren’t feeling any impact of the crisis on the amount of cash they have to spend, while a minority are being hit in a major way by the corona crisis.

Each year the Belgian version of Which? carries out a survey to find out how Belgians are managing to pay for their expenditure.  The survey conducted at the end of last year shows that most people are finding the readies with the same ease as in 2019.

Of the 5,000 people quizzed 71% said the crisis wasn’t impacting on the family budget.  29% indicated they were having to make do with less.  A fifth saw their income fall by up to a quarter compared with a year ago.  7% experienced a drop in earnings of over a quarter.

3% of Belgian households are struggling to get round, while 47% of people say they are having trouble to pay their bills ‘once in a while’.  Half the people concede it never poses a problem.

Despite the pandemic most people were able to continue working.  Opportunities to spend cash were fewer.  Outlays on a restaurant meal, an evening down the pub or a trip abroad were few and far between.  Home working meant people spent less on sandwiches and new clothes.

A small minority was hit hard by the pandemic, especially people working in sectors that were badly affected by the crisis: the tourism sector, hospitality, the events sector.  They had to sign on for months and had little cash left over at the end of the day.

The survey also identified the expenditures that became most problematic when money was short: dental care, spectacles, hearing aids, car maintenance and maintenance of the home.  These were expenditures that were postponed first.

And what does the future bring?

Test Aankoop’s Sebastian Stevering warns that problems could emerge for businesses when the economy reopens more fully if people continue to limit their expenditure as businesses will have to stand on their own two feet as government support ends.

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