European Spending Habits Die Hard

Posted by: Ben Vickers on November 9, 2011

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Austerity is hitting home in some EU countries. Many Europeans will be spending less on gifts, food and socializing in the upcoming holiday season and New Year, Bloomberg’s Julie Cruz reports. The Greeks expect to spend 22 percent less than in 2010—the biggest drop in a survey of 15 countries carried out in September by Deloitte LLP (Survey in French). The festive mood, at least as far as spending goes, will also be subdued in Portugal, where the holiday budget per capita is expected to drop 8 percent.

The Irish are also pulling on the reins, with a 7.4 percent drop—although that looks a little different when one considers they’re starting from the highest budget of all: the Irish will probably spend a little less than 1000 euros per head on their year-end holiday, twice as much as the Germans.

But who is bucking the austerity trend and splashing out more this year? People in Luxembourg, which is just behind Ireland in holiday spending, will add almost 1 percent to their budget. France will do more, adding 1.9 percent this year, which is matched by Spain, while the Belgians will add 2.2 percent.

Central Europe will be more profligate. Countries where spending increases may top inflation are Poland, with a 4.1 percent rise, Germany, which will add 4.3 percent, and Slovakia, with a 6.6 percent increase. The country adding most is Finland, where people will be spending 6.8 percent more this holiday season compared with last year.

In contrast, the Dutch are the most frugal, according to the survey. They will spend 260 euros per capita, the least of the 15 countries—and that’s 2.9 percent less than in 2010.

The differences in holiday spending in absolute terms reflect cultural differences between the countries and some of the economic history of the past 20 years. How the holiday budgets are changing suggests the different effects the current economic climate is having on people’s outlook.

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Financial markets are on the edge as investors await a solution to the European debt crisis. This blog examines the banks that hold billions of euros worth of Greek, Italian, and other sovereign debt; the governments that must pay off or refinance that debt; and the implications for the worldwide financial system if they can't.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the author and or commentators, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

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