How far would you go to save on your shopping? As we well know, cost is generally the primary factor in deciding where people shop. Supermarket brands tend to advertise their low prices before making an effort to attract customers with their quality.
And though city residents might not mind making a trip out of the centre to the larger stores, some people travel much further in the search for lower prices. For those living close to the border, this could even mean shopping abroad to benefit from prices that are simply unbeatable at home.
This is nothing new, Brits abroad used to make a final stop in Calais wine superstores before crossing the Channel with boots full of booze. And though Brexit has put far stricter limits on UK–EU purchases (famously with one trucker’s ham sandwich confiscated by Dutch customs officials), Belgium has not chosen to impose such austere measures on itself making cross-border shopping an uncomplicated affair.
But though Belgians might get more bang for their buck in neighbouring supermarkets, the cost to the Belgian economy in lost revenue is a little less encouraging. In fact, trade federation Comeos has put the cost at €2.65 billion per year and warns that it comes at the expense of 15,000 Belgian jobs.
Comeos highlighted Dutch stores Jumbo and Albert Heijn as being favourites among Belgian shoppers and key players in cross-border competition, which in turn drives down prices here. Analysts were also at pains to stress that the savings are generally much smaller than they might first appear, once fuel costs have been factored in.
But for some, the experience of shopping in another country – even if actually very close to home – has a certain pull that Belgian stores just don’t. Granted, they’re an unconventional tourist destination, but sometimes the novelty of a foreign supermarket has an unparalleled appeal.
Do you shop abroad? Let @Orlando_tbt know.
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