Belgians increase online spending even with restrictions lifted
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Belgians increase online spending even with restrictions lifted

Credit: Belga

Belgians have increased the amount of online shopping they do, even after coronavirus measures have allowed for the return of in-person shopping.

Belgians spent €5.56 billion on e-commerce in the first half of 2021, compared to €5.1 billion during the same period last year.

“We have noticed for several years that more and more consumers are finding their way to online shopping,” said Sofie Geeroms, Managing Director of BeCommerce, in a press release.

“The corona pandemic and the accompanying closure of physical shops provided an extra boost. It’s nice to see that this trend continues now that normal life is back on track.”

In the last quarter, 37 percent of all online spending went to services like travel and events, BeCommerce reports.

Last year, that category saw a sharp drop of up to ten percent due to event cancellations resulting from the pandemic.

Purchases of food products have also risen, according to the Flemish infocentre for agriculture and horticulture (VILT).

“Food products (including pet food) experienced an increase of no less than 51 percent compared to the same period last year,” said VILT, while noting that the overall share remains limited to 4 percent of all online spending.

“It took a while, but in the meantime Belgians are also finding their way to the web shop for food products,” said Geeroms.

“Nevertheless, there is still a lot of growth potential in this category. Compared to other European countries, the Belgian food shop is still lagging behind a bit.”

Most people BeCommerce surveyed said that the convenience of ordering from home remains the most important reason to shop online, and half of respondents cited shipping costs as the most important barrier.

A quarter of online purchases were made with a smartphone, but this concerns mostly cheaper purchases, with more expensive ones made on laptops and desktops.

Around four in ten online purchases by Belgians are made using Bancontact, with credit cards coming in second place and PayPal in third.

The top three categories of online spending were the same this year as they were the last: airline tickets and accommodation (85 percent of spending done online), tickets for attractions and events (84 percent of spending), and package holidays (64 percent of spending).

“Travel, events, attractions: normal life picked up speed again in the past quarter and we can see this in the online spending of Belgians,” said Geeroms.

“The events and travel sector is reviving and our Market Monitor shows that Belgians continue to trust Belgian web shops.”