Belgian results of Deloitte Xmas study

Belgians estimate that they will spend €574 over Xmas period: the first increase in 5 years
29 November 2011

Brussels, 29 November 2011 – Belgian households plan to spend €574 for year-end-festivities, the first increase in 5 years. However, this increase is minimal and is outpaced by the rise in Belgium's inflation rate. After four years, cash has dethroned the gift voucher as most popular gift on the wish list, and less than half of the respondents who received gift vouchers last year, have used all their vouchers. Moreover, Belgium needs to catch up not only in the field of E-Commerce but also in Mobile Commerce compared to the rest of Europe. These are the main Belgian conclusions of the 2011 Deloitte Xmas survey, an annual survey that is conducted this year for the 14th time, investigating the year-end holiday season purchasing intentions among European consumers.

Since the financial crisis in 2008, positive feelings about the state of the economy were slowly returning among consumers. In 2011 this positivism has come to an abrupt end because of the debt crisis in a number of Eurozone countries that risks to have a pervasive impact on the economy.

Six out of ten Belgian consumers think our country is currently in a recession. Koen Neijens, Director at Deloitte Belgium adds: "66% of Belgian consumers believe their spending power stayed stable or improved in 2011. That figure drops to 53% when they look to 2012. This means that 47% of the Belgian consumers believe their spending power will deteriorate in 2012 or are uncertain on how it will evolve. Both uncertainty and deterioration are considered negative consumer sentiments."

Belgian households plan to spend €574 during the holiday season, the first increase in 5 years

Belgian consumers estimate spending €574 this holiday season, a very slight increase (0,7%) compared to last year. Nevertheless, this is the first increase in 5 years. However, this slight increase is outpaced by the rise in inflation.

Although Belgians tend to spend slightly less than the European average (European consumers plan to allocate a budget of €587 on average for year-end festivities, 0,8% lower than in 2010), Belgium is one of the few countries showing a modest increase in its holiday season budgets compared to 2010, alongside Switzerland, Luxembourg, France and Spain. Larger budget increases are expected in the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Slovakia and Finland. Unsurprisingly large cut-backs can be seen in countries such as Greece, Italy and Ireland.

Top most desired and purchased gifts in Belgium

Top 10 – Most desired gifts in Belgium
(2010 position between brackets)
% Top 10 – Gifts planned to give in Belgium
(2010 position between brackets)
1. Cash (2) 44% 1. Cosmetics/Perfumes (3) 50%
2. Gift Vouchers (1) 42% 2. Gift Vouchers (1) 47%
3. Books (4) 40% 3. Beauty care, massages, spa treatment (-) 42%
4. Travel (8) 34% 4. Food & drinks (6) 39%
5. Restaurants (-) 34% 5. Cash (5) 36%
6. Jewellery/Watches (6) 30% 6. Chocolates (-) 33%
7. Clothes/Shoes (3) 29% 7. Books (2) 31%
8. Tickets for theatre/concert/cinema/sport games (-) 28% 8. Jewellery/Watches (7) 31%
9. CDs (10) 28% 9. Restaurants (-) 30%
10. Cosmetics/Perfumes (5) 27% 10. CDs (8) 30%

Key findings with regard to the most desired and most purchased gifts in Belgium are:

Belgians falling behind on online purchases (E-Commerce) and Mobile commerce

European consumers have opted to make use of both channels (online and offline channels) at all three steps of their buying processes: searching, comparing and buying. Belgian consumers are however lagging behind on online shopping compared to the European average. Matthieu Van Der Schueren explains: "72% of Belgian consumers prefer to purchase their goods in shops instead of online, compared to a European average of 53%. The main reasons why Belgian consumers don't prefer to buy online are: concerns about the safety of the online purchases, unwillingness to share personal data on the internet and the fact that the customer would like to try out or see the product/service first in real life. Also the high level of urbanization plays a role which means that there is plenty of choice in stores in the proximity of consumers."

Another emerging retail method is Mobile Phone Commerce. Mobile Commerce refers to consumers using their mobile phone to buy goods and services. The number of consumers that have already used their mobile phone to buy goods is nowhere in Europe lower than in Belgium (9%).
Matthieu Van Der Schueren, Director at Deloitte Belgium adds: "the use of mobile phones for purchases is still limited, but we expect to see further growth in this way of paying for goods as more and more consumers will have the technology literally in their hands, and retailers will offer opportunities."