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Belgians spend €2.7bn shopping in neighbouring countries

20:46 31/01/2018

Growing numbers of Belgians are doing their shopping in neighbouring countries, depriving local businesses of €2.7 billion a year in revenue, a new report suggests.

Retail federation Comeos estimates that cross-border shopping is growing by on average 3.2% per year - and that the trend represents 16,000 lost jobs in Belgium.

The figures do not include online shopping. About a quarter of cross-border sales were food and other basic everyday items, the Comeos report found.

Comeos chief executive Dominique Michel said retailers were "handicapped" by higher VAT rates than neighbouring countries. Buying a smartphone in Germany attracts 19% sales tax, compared with 21% in Belgium.



The "blame it on Belgium's higher VAT rates" is the usual excuse for the often outrageously higher consumer prices charged in Belgium.
Imo, the reason why people shopping in Belgium are forced to pay so much more for products (including food and other supermarket products, non-prescription pharmacy products, etc. ) and services (think internet, car insurance, etc.) is because all our neighbouring countries have competitive pricing while Belgium only has price fixing.
And while other countries have independent consumer organisations (50 milllions de consommateurs in France, the Consumentenbond in the Netherlands and Stiftung Warentest in Germany) who would normally attack such price-fixing agreements, the Belgian Test Achat has close ties with the government and is not an independent organisation at all. This would explain why it never addresses the issue of overly high consumer prices and price-fixing in Belgium.
So logically more and more people are discovering they can save serious money on everyday items just by shopping across the border, either in person or online.

Feb 1, 2018 12:22
Marc Slonik

Pointing out VAT as the main reason of the situation is really ridiculous. If that was the case, the prices in Belgium would have been roughly 2% higher than in Germany. I would not bother going to Aachen to save 10EUR on 500EUR grocery. The fact is that for products I'm getting in Germany for 500, I would easily spent 800 here. That is if the products were available in Belgium, because on top of the price difference there is also a huge gap in the range of the offer between here and Germany or France.

Feb 1, 2018 13:03

It's been the same for many years. Twenty years ago I got all my house renovation materials in Luxembourg, well worth the van rental. Paint at half the price or less.

Feb 2, 2018 05:34

This does not surprise me; far too many politicians and advisors at the helm for such a small country. Lots of unnecessary sky high taxes; mountains of unnecessary paper work.... laws always changing in favour of the very rich and politicians. The EU call it, 'Free Competition'. What happened to openness, honesty and transparency? Internet shopping, shopping in other countries, plus free delivery can generally be more economical, and even cheaper if one teams up with their next door neighbour or a friend and it is normal that a person wants to save and budget.

Online shopping can reduce traffic problems and pollution and is also convenient for handicapped persons.

An amicable solution would be for all countries to agree on affordable prices and every EU countries VAT reduced to 10% (or less).

If the electricity companies nuclear power stations turned off all the street lights an hour earlier they could give the electricity power generated for that one hour back to the people to use in their own homes.

In every country there is always room for improvement.

Feb 2, 2018 23:11