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Belgians ‘shopping less but spending more’

13 May 2005

BRUSSELS –  Belgian consumers are going to stores less frequently less but spending more money, according to a survey by the GFK market research institute.

The findings, published in daily newspaper La Derniere Heure, reveal that the average Belgian consumer visited a store 194 times in 2004, down from 210 visits in 2000.

The figure encompasses grocery as well as non-food shopping.

Despite fewer shopping trips, the average household spent EUR 4,572 last year, compared to EUR 4,223 in 2000.

At the same time, the average value of a shopper’s basket reached EUR 23.60 in 2004, up from EUR 20.10 in 2000.

Baudouin Velge of the Belgian federation of enterprises and distribution known as Fedis, that commissioned the survey, noted that Belgian consumers are increasingly going to different stores for their purchases rather than buying everything in the same place.

“Increasingly, the consumer exhibits extremely diversified behaviour when it comes to shopping,” he said.

“Gone is the time of buying everything in one store.”

This in turn puts greater pressure on distributors to maintain their productivity, he added.

Arthur Goethals, the new president of Fedis who will serve for the next three years, painted a more gloomy picture, saying that Belgian distributors were in a precarious situation.

“In the name of Belgian companies involved in distribution, I call on the political authorities to begin a structural dialogue that recognises the contribution of these companies to the well-being and comfort of this country,” he said.

“If the distribution stops, we should not forget that everything comes to a standstill.”

The numbers back up his claim.

Retail distribution is a EUR 205 billion a year business here, employing some 500,000 people representing about 14.3% of private-sector employees.

Among other interesting spending habits, the survey found that women are in charge of shopping for 90% of households, and that shoppers spend more when they take their children along than when alone.

Consumers shopping solo were found to have spent EUR 61.50 on average at hypermarkets, EUR 32.90 at supermarkets and EUR 24.80 at hard-discounters.

That compares to EUR 62.70, EUR 52 and EUR 37.90, respectively, if the shopper takes the children along.

If only the partner is present, a consumer spends EUR 67.60 at the hypermarket, EUR 39.30 at the supermarket and EUR 33.90 at the hard-discounter.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian News