It has been wrongly assumed that consumers would drive the recovery after Covid-19 in 2022. The opposite is the case. European consumers spend less and save less. According to our own calculations, consumers in the eurozone will spend €70 billion less this year. That is almost 500 euros per household.

Inflation, the war in Ukraine and possible new waves of COVID-19 have seriously affected consumer confidence. European consumers are even more pessimistic than during the lockdowns.

According to our researchers, spending will pick up temporarily in the third quarter. Especially sectors such as catering and tourism benefit from the holiday period. Once back from holiday, the hand will be on the purse strings again.

Saving less

Not only are European consumers spending less, but less money is also being set aside due to inflation. The cost of living has risen so steeply that many households have no money left to save. This brings an abrupt end to a period of more than two years (the Covid period) in which an exceptionally large amount has been saved. We estimate that gross savings rates in Germany, France and Italy will decline this year, possibly falling below their pre-corona long-term average (-4.7 pp, -3.7 pp and -4.8 pp, respectively).

In total, 36.5% of the European consumers we surveyed said they plan to save less in the coming months, with the highest share in France (49.3%). According to our calculations, there is still more than €380 billion in savings surplus in the eurozone (built up during the corona crisis). However, this amount is unevenly distributed: richer households have a much larger share of the total. We find that the lowest-income households have extra savings of just EUR 93 per household, compared to more than EUR 8,700 per household for the richest.
The food bill in the eurozone is expected to rise by an average of €550 per household in 2022 and the energy bill by more than €750, with prices rising +50% over the year. For nearly two-thirds of households, the savings surplus this year will not be enough to protect them from the inflation hurricane.

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