Of this figure, €423 million was spent in France alone, accounting for an almost 70% increase year-on-year, according to figures from the Belgian retail trade federation Comeos, which were published by daily De Standaard.
An estimated 37% of Belgians regularly do their grocery shopping in other countries, as half of Belgians live less than an hour from the border.
In the past, France, Germany and the Netherlands were about equally popular among cross-border shoppers, but today France stands out.
Two major factors contributed to the increase in grocery shopping trips to neighbouring countries – inflation and energy prices – with both rising sharply over the past year.
Inflation In Belgium
According to Comeos, inflation in Belgium was twice as high as in France during the first three months of 2023, leading to a widening of price differences.
Wage indexation in Belgium also increased labour costs, with supermarkets unable to fully pass on price increases from food producers.
From July, hundreds of food products are anticipated to become cheaper in France as a result of agreements between the French Economy Minister and 75 major industrial food producers.
The move comes as the Belgian government prepares to implement a VAT increase from 6% to 9% on almost all food products (except food and vegetables) as part of its tax reform plans.
As a result, 85% of the products in the Belgian consumer's average shopping trolley are expected to cost more.
Comeos is calling for a tax freeze for the Belgian retail sector, warning that ‘if nothing changes, we expect even more Belgians to shop abroad in the coming months.’
© 2023 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest Retail news. Article by Branislav Pekic. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.