Consumer confidence remains stable; spending levels barely rise

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Consumer confidence has barely changed between January and February 2015, despite December 2014 yielding about a 0.5 percent increase on goods and services spending from the same month the previous year, reported Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reported on Friday.

Roughly seven percent of consumers responded negatively about their economic confidence in February, slightly down from six percent in January. While the consumer's perception of the economy is slightly more negative, their interest in spending will not alter. The average negative consumer confidence level of the last twenty years sits at eight percent.

CBS also predicts that the conditions for consumption for households will be better in February 2015 than in January. The quality of conditions are assessed by consumer expectations, the labor market, and ability to acquire goods.

December 2014 was the third month in a row with a slight spending increase, but growth was affected by a plummet in car sales, contributing to a drop in spending on non-perishable goods of 1.8 percent. CBS reports the high level of spending on cars in December 2013 can be explained by expiry of tax breaks in January 2014.

Conversely, bicycle sales in December were significantly higher than in 2013, which could also be attributed to the elimination of a tax credit for some bicycle purchases at the start of 2015. Consumers also spent 0.6 percent more on food and beverages than a year earlier, and the rise of 1.5 percent of spending on other goods was reportedly the result in a rise in gas purchases.

The rise of 0.9 percent of spending on services includes paying rent, public transport, visiting service providers and communication and insurance costs.