Consumer spending change in the Netherlands due to coronavirus 2020

An overview on how many payment transactions were done at, for example, supermarkets or restaurants reveals how much COVID-19 changed Dutch consumer behavior. Measures from the Dutch government already left visible marks on parts of the Dutch economy on both March 19th and March 20th, 2020, even before a recession might hit later in the year. Especially out-of-home leisure activities, like visiting a restaurant or going to a theme park, saw huge changes in the number of recorded debit card transactions, decreasing by over 80 percent to a comparable day in 2019. Other retail stores, however, saw a notable increase. DIY stores, toy shops and supermarkets especially, saw a surge in transactions.

Debit card transactions to measure consumer behavior?

ING, the source of this overview, tried to provide a first glimpse into the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer behavior. It did so by looking at data from what is the most commonly used payment method of the Dutch. In the Netherlands, consumers do not always use cash money or credit cards for their retail payments. In 2018, for example, just 0.03 billion of all 6.84 billion payment transactions in hotels, restaurants, shops, bars, market stalls, petrol stations and service providers were done with a credit card. Debit cards, on the other hand, accounted for more than half of all payment transactions that year. The Netherlands also had a higher market share for contactless payments than most other European countries.

Are these numbers representative for the whole country?

One should keep in mind that the numbers shown here are based only on transactions done with debit cards from ING. Based on assets, ING was the Netherlands’ biggest bank ahead of Rabobank and ABN AMRO and is considered the market leader in the country. For a more complete picture on the Netherlands, one could argue that compatible data from Rabobank and ABN AMRO would have been ideal. These were not yet available. Some industry sources, however, already confirmed that the impact of the coronavirus was severe. The Dutch hospitality sector predicted a revenue loss of nearly 250 million for restaurants alone, for example.

Change in the number of debit card transactions in different payment locations in the Netherlands due to the coronavirus outbreak from March to June 2020

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Release date

July 2020



Survey time period

March 19, 2020, to June 30, 2020, versus "comparable days" in 2019*

Special properties

payments processed by ING

Supplementary notes

The source states that the "comparable days" were the same days in 2019. That would have been either Thursday March 14, 2019, Friday March 15, 2019, Friday March 22, 2019 and Tuesday March 26, 2019, or the combination of Thursday March 21, 2019, Friday March 22, 2019, Friday March 27, 2019 and Tuesday April 2, 2019, as the source does not mention the exact days it used to compare with.

* The numbers for May and June concern the week up until that moment, as the source published the material less often.

The categories used in this statistic are translations from the original (Dutch) source material. The category of "Basic needs", for example, was called Levensbehoeften. No explanation was given why some categories were named as such or what they specifically did and did not include. It is likely the source did this for reasons of simplicity, but this might therefore mean that the categories listed here are not fully in line with certain industry definitions.

The source explicitly mentions that the data only concerns debit card payments processed by ING. The numbers provided therefore do not include all payment providers in the Netherlands (such as the country's two other big banks Rabobank or ABN AMRO).

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