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One in three Belgians wait for special bargains before they go shopping

  • It’s a noteworthy fact that one in three Belgians wait for special discount promotions before they go shopping.
  • Although women still go shopping more often, men are slowly but surely catching up with them.
  • We spend the most on these top five items: 47.8% on clothing, 13.6% on leisure, 11% on personal grooming, 9.7% on food and the hospitality industry and 7.2% on shoes.
  • At 37 years of age, the average shopper is younger than ever. This is five years younger than the average age four years ago.
  • Used by 67 percent of shoppers, the car is still the most popular means of transport for shopping trips.

Belgians and special offers are still a match made in heaven. One in three Belgians deliberately makes time to go shopping if there are lots of discounts in the shops, such as during the approaching sales period or popular new events like Black Friday. Half of our budget is spent on clothing. But we are also spending more in bars, cafes, and restaurants (the hospitality industry). Another striking fact is that although women go shopping more often, men are more likely to spend large amounts upwards of €125. All this was revealed by the annual shopping survey conducted by Group Hugo Ceusters-SCMS, Belgium’s largest independent administrator of shopping centres, when they interviewed 24,384 Belgians in six shopping centres about their shopping habits.

Traditionally, both the summer and end-of-year sales have always been extremely popular, and nothing has changed in this regard. There is, however, one difference: in 2017 there are major discount events for Belgian shoppers all year round, according to the survey. Around 32% of Belgians said that they look out for and make a point of going to shopping centres whenever there are large discount events such as Black Friday, outlet days or package deals in their neighbourhood.

“The sales period is no longer strictly limited to January and July, as it was in the past, but discounts continue to exert a magnetic pull on people. What is particularly noticeable is that the large discount events attract a totally different group of consumers than during the rest of the year. Naturally, exhibitions, entertainment, workshops, and decoration displays also attract extra people.”

“For years we have been spending approximately the same amount on a day out shopping: on average €90 per day, and in many cases, this is spent on purchases for the entire family. In more concrete terms, we can say that more than one in two Belgians (56% to be precise) spend between €25 and €125 on an average day out shopping. Around 19% of Belgians spends less than €25 during an average day’s shopping, while approximately 25 % spends more than €125.”

Hans Van Laer
Marketing manager Group Hugo Ceusters-SCMS


Pavement cafes

Belgian spending patterns are still very traditional: almost half (47.8%) of our shopping budget goes on clothes. Exactly 13.6% goes on leisure and 11% on personal grooming. We also don’t hold back on food and the hospitality industry: 9.7% of our budget for a day out shopping is spent on “something to eat or drink”. 7.2% is spent on - what else? - shoes

“Our focus during a day out shopping is continuing to shift. We used to go to the shops for just a jacket or a pair of trousers, but nowadays we also want to enjoy ourselves and have an experience. Even if this costs money. This is why we sit down at a pavement cafe more often or even go to lunch when out shopping.”

Hans Van Laer
Marketing manager Group Hugo Ceusters-SCMS


European trend

Cafes, restaurants, events, and new shopping concepts such as pop-up bars are playing an increasingly important role for shoppers. The Hugo Ceusters-SCMS Group anticipates that “sitting down at a pavement cafe” will become even more important in Belgian shopping centres. Whereas in 2015, cafes and restaurants accounted for 10% of all shops in shopping centres, this percentage is slowly but surely inching towards 15%. It’s even possible that this share will increase to 20% in the future. In doing so, Belgian shopping centres are following a European trend.

“Visiting a cafe or restaurant is becoming an ever more important aspect of going shopping”. This is a significant development as it immediately provides the best buffer against the rise of e-commerce. You can shop online to your heart’s content, but if you want to enjoy a nice drink at a summery pavement cafe, you will have to leave the house. The ability to provide an experience is a major advantage for physical shops.”

Hans Van Laer
Marketing manager Group Hugo Ceusters-SCMS


Increase in male shoppers

The largest shopping survey in Belgium also revealed some interesting facts about other aspects of our shopping habits. It appears that women still go shopping more often than men. Expressed in percentages, 60.5 percent of visitors to shopping centres are women while 39.5 percent are men.

It is striking, however that this cliché is being eroded, slowly but surely. Men are being spotted increasingly often in our shopping centres. In 2013, 35.7 % of Belgians shoppers was a man; in 2014 this figure was 37% and this share has gradually increased to 39.5%. These are also the same men who can be described as big spenders. In percentage terms, they are more likely to spend €125 or more.

In general, whether they are male or female, one in three Belgian shoppers are aged between 30 and 50 (30.4%). According to the annual survey, the average age of shoppers in Belgium is 37. This is a year younger than in 2015 and even five years younger than the average age four years ago. It is also no surprise that the number of shoppers in their twenties is increasing every year. In 2013 they accounted for 17.7% of the total number of shoppers on average. This figure was 21.4% in 2015, and 24.4% in 2016. They usually spent small amounts under €25.


The car is king

The survey also asked people how they go to the shops. This question revealed a few noteworthy facts. When Belgians go shopping, 15% use public transport, 10.6% walk and 7.6% cycle or go on their moped. But it’s usually younger people who leave the car at home when they go shopping. The car is still the most popular means of transport to the shops. In 2016, no fewer than 67% of shoppers took the car.

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