Food winner, fashion loser in the Covid year

The Covid pandemic caused major shifts in consumer spending: last year, Belgians spent significantly more money on food and alcohol and much less on clothes.


Takeaway meals

We already knew that the spending pattern of consumers had changed drastically as a result of the Covid measures, but now we have the numbers from Belgian statistical office Statbel. The Belgian national Dutch-speaking broadcaster VRT reports about them in the book 'Investing in the first half of your life' by its journalist Michaël Van Droogenbroek and Ewald Pironet, a journalist at Knack magazine.


Last year a household spent an average of 35,209 euros, more than 500 euros less than two years earlier. Spending on food and non-alcoholic beverages rose by 12 % compared to 2018. Belgians spent more on bread and cereal products (+ 6 %), fruit (+ 10 %), milk (+ 10 %), meat (+ 12 %), fish and shellfish (+ 15 %), coffee (+ 23 %) and vegetables (+ 26 %). These numbers are consequences of the closure of the hospitality industry, of course. People cooked at home more often, and spending on takeaway meals tripled.


Garden and interior

Spending on alcohol also went up: Belgians bought 10 % more alcoholic drinks, roughly 600 euros per household. The biggest risers were soft drinks with alcohol, of which sales tripled. There were also significant increases for wine (+ 7 %), beer (+ 14 %) and spirits (+ 18 %).


As people stayed in their homes, they also spent more on their interiors: furniture sales increased by 30 %, household textiles by 20 % and garden items by 16 %. Belgians also bought more vacuum cleaners and air conditioners.


One of the big sufferers from the Covid crisis was the fashion industry: spending dropped by as much as 30 %. Men spent half as much on shirts and 71 % less on suits. Women spent 27 % less on trousers, 39 % less on blouses and 22 % less on bras.