24 January 2006
BRUSSELS – Belgians appear to be bucking their reputation as a nation which saves for a rainy day, according to a report out on Tuesday.
The Institute for Sustainable Development said research shows the average Belgian has gone from putting 19.2 percent of his available income aside to saving 9 percent.
“It is because income has stagnated and consumption is rising,” economist Philippe Defeyt told the daily Le Soir.
The latest figures were for the year 2005 and were compared to those from 1995.
They were confirmed by figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which showed savings falling from 18.6 percent to 13.4 percent.
Defeyt said Belgians were spending more on cars, transport in general, health and insurance.
“The rate of saving can’t indefinitely fall,” he added. “It’s with those savings that households pay their mortgages.”
Belgians have in the past been compared to the Japanese for their tendency to save.
However, this year’s sales figures also suggested Belgians are loosening their purse strings. The Flemish traders’ federation, Unizo, said January sales figures were up by between 5-8 percent, compared to last year, with shoes selling particularly well.
The francophone Fedis also said shoe sales were up by 5 percent, but textile sales remain the same as last year.
Both federations were predicting higher spending in the last week of the sales, stating some customers wait until the last few days for the best deals; others, they say, are paid their January pay cheques later and rush out to spend them.
[Copyright: Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news