Retail purchases plummet
Volume of sales in the Belgian retail sector in December of last year fell by 7%
The volume of sales in the Belgian retail sector in December of last year fell by 7% in comparison with a year ago.
The fall is the largest in a decade and a half.
Higher food and energy prices are blamed for Belgians' reluctance to dip into their wallet.
Belgians also say they are worried about a recession in the US.
Luc Aben of the bankers' Van Lanschot says there is a real problem with spending power, but there are also psychological factors: Belgians are influenced by the talk of economic gloom in the media.
Last week poor figures were posted for the January sales.
Retail sales fell across the European Union last year, but the reduction is largest in Belgium.
Spending by the public at large has a big impact on the economy as a whole.
The tumbling figures suggest that the European economic slow down is worse than anticipated.