Europe COVID-19 leads to a decline in private consumption expenditure

Private consumer spending in the EU declined by 4.1% in Q1 2020 compared with the previous quarter, adjusted for price, seasonal and calendar effects. The decline was still comparatively moderate, as the coronavirus only started spreading in Europe in February 2020 and the containment measures adopted as a result did not kick in until March.

The decline was then significant in the 2nd quarter of 2020: In the EU-27, private consumption expenditure fell by 12.0% on the previous quarter. Closed stores, canceled cultural events, travel restrictions and increased work from home as well as financial losses and uncertainties due to the uncertain economic and employment situation all contributed to consumers spending less in all EU countries. The slump was particularly severe in Spain (-20.0%), Ireland (-19.1%), Malta (-19.0%) and Latvia (-18.3%). In Germany, the decline was 11.1%. The decline in Bulgaria was comparatively small at -2.1%.

As the pandemic proved to be milder in the summer, all EU Member States that have to date published data for the third quarter have reported an increase in spending. In Luxembourg, Ireland, Malta, Slovenia and Spain, for example, the quarter-on-quarter increase was more than 20%. Germany achieved an increase of 10.8%. Despite the significant increases in the third quarter, spending in almost all countries nevertheless remained below pre-crisis level.

Quarterly data on consumption expenditure by private households and NPISH compared quarter-on-quarter and with the same quarter of the previous year can be accessed in the Eurostat database.