2021 - The Boston Globe

How has the pandemic impacted on spending patterns?

Figures from the Belgian statistics office show how markedly the pandemic has affected our expenditure.  Homeworking and restrictions meant we spent money on other things than usual.

Last year the average household spent 35,209 euros.  That’s 500 euros less than two years earlier. The figure comes from the Belgian statistics office that analyses household expenditure every two years. Households are paying nearly 200 euros for tap water, 730 euros for gas and 800 euros for electricity.  175 euros goes on chocolate, over 200 euros on soft drinks, 150 on beer and nearly 350 on wine.

Living costs make up around 30% of our budget and rose 4.7% over the last two years. The figure is three times inflation! The hike in living costs in mainly due to higher rents. Higher water and energy costs are not yet completely included in the figure.

We’ve been spending more on tap water, electricity and gas because we’ve been spending more time at home.  If included, this could take the rise over two years to plus 7.5% for general living costs.

The pandemic also affected our expenditure on food and non-alcoholic beverages: worth around 14% of our total budget these costs rose 12% in all. We’ve been spending more on bread, fruit, milk, meat (+12%), fish (+15%), coffee (+23%) and veg (+26%).

Households that spent 2,350 euros on hospitality in 2018 only forked out 1,550 euros in 2020. Average households spent around 200 euros on take-aways last year, a trebling over two years.

Belgians’ expenditure on alcoholic beverages rose 10% and reached 600 euros a household. Expenditure on clothes plumeted 30% to 900 euros a household.  Men spent 78% less on suits and women 22% less on bras. 

Households spent a lot less on recreational activities like sports, cinemas, the theatre and concerts, but more on streaming services (up 35%).

Expenditure on travel was down 60%, while less was spent on cars too.  Expenditure on bikes rose 63%!

As we were at home more, we also spent more on new furniture (up 30%), curtains and garden furniture.  Expenditure on vacuum cleaners, radiators and air-conditioning rose too.

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