Purchasing power in Europe climbed by around four percent this year. But purchasing power levels vary substantially across the continent and within the 42 individual countries considered by GfK’s study. Geographic location is therefore a major determinant in Europeans’ spending power.
According to the GfK study, a total of approximately €9.13 trillion is available to European consumers in 2015 for spending and saving. This corresponds to an average per-capita purchasing power of €13,636 for the 42 countries under review. Compared to last year, Europeans have around 4.2 percent more per-capita purchasing power, which translates to a real-value increase in many countries. According to the European Central Bank, Europe’s 2015 rate of inflation will be 0.2 percent.
Consumers' disposable income varies significantly by region and country. Purchasing power in the eastern and southern European countries has grown somewhat despite the economic crises. Even so, the levels lag far behind those of the western and northern European countries. There is almost no middle ground in the distribution of purchasing power values among Europe's countries. With a purchasing power of €13,203 per person, Spain is the only country that falls around the European average.
Consumers in Europe's top 10 countries have at least 1.5 times the average European purchasing power, while Liechtenstein even has 4.5 times the European average. Twenty six countries fall below the European average. The four countries with the greatest number of inhabitants – Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy – make up 40 percent of Europe's population and almost 60 percent of the continent's purchasing power.
Spain's purchasing power approximates European average
Spain's per-capita purchasing power of €13,203 puts it around the European average. Ranked 17, Spain is the only country with a purchasing power that approximates the European average. The country with the next highest purchasing power is Italy with €16,193 per person, which is 19 percent above the European average. Malta, the country with the next lowest purchasing power, has €10,753 per person, which is 21 percent less than the European average.
With €17,441 per person, inhabitants of Gipuzka, Spain's wealthiest prov-ince, have somewhat more purchasing power than inhabitants in the Netherlands. This puts inhabitants of this province around one third above the Spanish average. Inhabitants of Cadiz, the least wealthy province, have just €8,943 per person, which is one third less than the national average (country index: 67.7). With €13,224 per person, inhabitants of Valladolid have a purchasing power level that approximates Spain's average.
Paris is France's purchasing power hotspot
Ranked 13, France has an average per-capita purchasing power of €19,076, which is almost 40 percent above the European average.
With a purchasing power of €29,443 per person, Paris substantially outpaces France's other departments. Inhabitants of France's capital have on average 1.5 times the national average and more than twice the European average.
Pas-de-Calais is in last place with a purchasing power of €15,688 per person, which is approximately 18 percent below the national average and right at the EU-28 average. With €19,006 per person, inhabitants of Pyrenees-Atlantiques have a level of purchasing power around France's average.
Widely varying income levels in Poland
Inhabitants of Poland have a 2015 purchasing power of €6,437 per person. Ranked 28, Poland's inhabitants have 47 percent of the average European purchasing power. The district of Tarnow has a purchasing power that approximates Poland's national average. Warsaw is the nation's district with the highest purchasing power: With €11,751, inhabitants of this district have on average almost 83 percent more purchasing power than the rest of the country. Despite this, they still have around 14 percent less than the European average.
Even so, 17 of Poland's 380 districts have a purchasing power level that is 20 percent or higher than the national average. This indicates growing affluence in some regions. But the situation is entirely different in the 90 districts that fall 20 percent or more below the national average. Inhabitants of Lubaczowski, Poland's district with the least purchasing power, have just 68 percent of Poland's per-capita average. These values are indicative of a pronounced income gap among Poland's population. This can be partly explained by the division of the country into 380 regions, which is a relatively granular demarcation compared to the other mentioned countries. More granular regions tend to exhibit a greater spread of values.
Czechs have around half of European average
Inhabitants of the Czech Republic (rank 26) have an average per-capita purchasing power of €7,313, which equates to 53.6 percent of the European average.
The Czech Republic's wealthiest district, Prague (Hlavni mesto Praha), has an average per-capita purchasing power of €9,598. This is around 31 percent more than the national average. The nation's average is represented by Plzen-sever, the region north of Pilsen. Its inhabitants have €7,297 per person. Inhabitants of the district of Bruntal have an average of just €6,006 per person. This is 18 percent below the national average and around the same purchasing power level as inhabitants of Croatia.
About the study
The GfK purchasing power study reflects the nominal disposable income of the population in euros. The data is available down to detailed administrative and postal levels. The exchange rates for the non-euro countries are based on the 2015 prognoses of the European Commission reported on May 5, 2015. The growth rate of 4.2 percent refers to revised 2014 per-capita values.
Exchange rate effects between the euro and other currencies must be taken into account when interpreting the country rankings, particularly in the case of Switzerland and Great Britain.
Purchasing power is a measure of per-capita disposable income after the deduction of taxes and charitable contributions and including any received state benefits. The study indicates per-person, per-year purchasing power levels in euros and as an index value. GfK Purchasing Power is based on the population's nominal disposable income, which means values are not adjusted for inflation. The study draws on statistics on income and tax levels, government benefits and forecasts by economic institutes.
Consumers draw from their general purchasing power to cover expenses related to eating, living, services, energy, private pensions and insurance premiums as well as other expenditures, such as vacation, mobility and consumer purchases. The GfK Purchasing Power Europe study is calculated annually for 42 European countries and provides comprehensive coverage down to the level of municipalities and postcodes. The 2015 study is available immediately and also includes updated data on inhabitants and households. GfK offers seamlessly fitting digital maps as part of its geomarketing solutions.
Internationally active companies need accurate predictions of the amount of money available to consumers in their markets. GfK Purchasing Power Europe provides this information and supports expansion planning, branch network optimization and controlling.
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