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Belgians spend €2.7bn shopping in neighbouring countries
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.