In 2017, 8.4 million Belgian consumers shopped online at least once, representing 87 million purchases and spending € 10.05 billion.
During the final quarter of the year, full year results did not manage to go in the black. On the contrary, the non-food sales saw a decline of -2.8% in Q4, compared to the same period last year. This affects the results for the whole of the year, shrinking the value ever so slightly by 0.4%, compared to 2016.
Results in the red for the CE sector. Over the whole of 2017, value declines by -4%, driven by an even bigger loss in volume.
During the fourth quarter of 2017, the IT and Office Equipment market increased in value by almost +2%, for a total value of close to €558m. For the entire year of 2017, the increase was also +2%, for a total value of just over €1,995,000m.
The Telecom Business ends the year on a barely positive note with a value growth of 1.66% and in volume nearly a break-even (-0.41%).
With the full year analysis, come the Q4 results. Let’s look back. During the last quarter, sales volumes traditionally shrink month by month. This has everything to do with the typical end-of-year shopping for gifts. After all, who wants a cooker hood for Christmas? Moreover, anticipation grows when approaching the biggest sales period of the year: January Sales. However, at the end of November, we saw a peak in sales. The Black Friday phenomenon is starting to make inroads in the white goods market.
Driven by surging gaming revenues, home entertainment spending (including music streaming and downloading), rose 2.7% in the last quarter of 2017.
Small Domestic Appliances posted a volume decline of -2% in the 4th quarter of 2017. With a current value growth of +4% to about €14m at the end of 2017, Shavers was the best performing category in Small Domestic Appliances.
After an increase of 0.3% in the first semester, revenues in the second - in which for the first time the price of every new book released in Flanders was subject to a regulated book price - declined by 2.7%.
As the year progressed, it became clear that 2017 was going to be a challenging year for the Belgian Home Improvement market. Figures show that the sector’s half-yearly performance was amongst the worst of the last four years.
Compared to a very positive October last year, the Fashion market was not able to equal these figures this year. Therefore, October is, unfortunately, responsible for a decline in value of -1% for 2017. Compared to last year, the weather in October 2017 was much better, which may have had an impact when shopping for autumn and winter collection.
In 2017 e-commerce once again broke a number of online records in Belgium – yet we still see that more than 90% of all purchases of physical products are made offline. Traditional retail stores therefore continue to play an important role for Belgian consumers. However, we have noticed that these traditional retailers are losing touch with the so-called Leading Edge Consumers, for whom the benefits of online shopping are often more important. This group of consumers displays typical shopping behaviour that will be adopted in future by the average consumer. The Belgian retail sector can prepare for that future by focusing on the benefits of offline shopping, on integrating those online benefits into traditional stores, and on effective pricing strategies