Consumer confidence fell sharply in September, dropping 16 points, the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) reported on Thursday. The index has now slumped to -27 points, even lower than at the start of the war in Ukraine in March (-16) or the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in April 2020 (-26).
Households are expressing concerns about consistently high energy prices, record levels of inflation, and the geopolitical context in Europe, the NBB states. Since the beginning of the year, the bank’s indicator has dropped nearly 30 points.
Belgians are pessimistic about economic prospects for the next 12 months; confidence in the Belgium economy is now at an all-time low (-49).
Moreover, Belgians expect unemployment to rise and household finances have also reached the most pessimistic levels in the history of the index (-18).
In view of these concerns, fewer residents are planning (or are able) to save. Available income is instead being used to cover immediate costs, such as high energy bills.