Belgian retail sales slump in April

Belgian retail sales slump in April
Credit: Belga

The volume of retail sales in Belgian (excluding the sale of fuel) decreased by 1.5% in April compared to 2021, according to national statistics agency Statbel.

The most notable decreases were in retail conducted outside of stores, stalls, or markets (-17.5%). Mail order or internet shopping fell by 16.1% whilst sales in non-specialised grocery stores dropped 11.3%.

In March, the National Bank of Belgium warned of a downturn in economic activity, with less disposable household income which it forecast would “dampen consumer spending.”

Inflation reached almost 9% in May, the highest level recorded since 1982. All this has hit retail and businesses hard, as the cost of living has rapidly skyrocketed on the back of high energy prices.

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However, not all retail sectors witnessed a reduction in sales. As the spring draws to a close, there has been an uptake in the sales of clothing, as well as other considerable increases in general goods and office equipment.

Statbel noted an increase in the sale of textiles, clothing, footwear, and leather goods in specialised stores (73.5%). Specialised IT equipment has also seen a 10% rise.

This data was collected from VAT declarations of Belgian companies made to the FPS Finances. Previously, the data was collected from major companies around the country, but this provided little insight with only 340 companies answering the agency's surveys.

Despite drops in sales this month, Belgian consumers are still eager consumers and spend large amounts on goods and services. In the third quarter of 2021, a quarter of all money spent by Belgians was spent online, amounting to around €3.2 billion.


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