Most Dutch not noticing inflation yet; Energy companies seeing more arrears
Most Netherlands residents haven't noticed the impact of the high inflation rate yet, with only about 30 percent saying that they have less to spend, I&O Research found in a survey for NOS. Energy companies are noticing that more Netherlands residents are struggling to pay their energy bills, the broadcaster reported.
I&O Research surveys 1,996 Netherlands residents about the impact of inflation, which is currently at the highest level since 1976. A quarter said they are "somewhat bothered" by the price increases and have to "pay close attention to the little expenses." Five percent are struggling a lot under the price increases and expect to "get into financial problems as a result." Unsurprisingly, people with low incomes are most affected.
71 percent of respondents said they've taken measures in the past month because of the increased prices and war in Ukraine. 55 percent turned down the heating, three in ten drive less, and the same percentage take shorter showers. People with low incomes adjusted their behavior slightly less than people with mid-level incomes. According to I&O researcher Peter Kanne, this is likely because low-income households often already live frugally and relatively often don't have a car.
The higher inflation hasn't affected households' spending, ABN Amro reported. While the war in Ukraine and inflation dropped consumer confidence to a new low, they spent 21 percent more in March 2022 than in the same month in pre-pandemic 2019, corrected for inflation, the bank said.
Energy companies told NOS that customers are having more problems paying their bills. Vattenfall noticed that the number of people with payment arrears is increasing rapidly, with thousands of customers missing payments for at least two consecutive months. The average amount owed also increased 10 percent.
"The problem mainly lies in the outstanding amount," Vattenfall manager Martin Neef said to the broadcaster. "It used to be a few dozen euros. Now it's hundreds of euros in arrears. That's where the concerns lie." He added that about 200,000 customers face a "potential problem" because their monthly payment is too low. They'll likely get a shock when the final settlement arrives at the end of the year. "Because you have to then be able to pay that."
Eneco and Essent are noticing similar problems. "The number of payment reminders that we send is growing," an Eneco spokesperson said to the broadcaster. It's too soon to speak of serious problems. "But we do expect that this could happen."