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Households saved less in 2021 than in first year of the COVID-19 pandemic
Published: 31 January 2022
In 2021, Dutch households continued to save heavily. The total balance in current and savings accounts of Dutch households increased by €33.8 billion to a total of €528.4 billion in 2021. However, this increase is smaller than that seen in 2020, which is when the COVID-19 pandemic started. In that year, households credited nearly €43.4 billion to their bank accounts.
Not only did persistently low interest rates and rising share prices slow down the accumulation of deposits in bank accounts, as containment measures were relaxed over the course of 2021, consumer expenditure also increased and was further boosted later in the year by rising prices.
Growing bank balances at low interest rates
By the end of 2021, Dutch households had a total of €528.4 billion in their bank accounts at Dutch banks (Figure 1). In particular, the net amount deposited on current accounts was high in 2021. At the end of 2021, there was €19.8 billion (20%) more in the current accounts of Dutch households than at the beginning of 2021. Net deposits in savings accounts amounted to €13.4 billion in 2021, compared to €22 billion in 2020. This makes net deposits for full 2021 comparable to those seen in 2019, which came to €11.1 billion.
The persistently low interest rates currently received (and in some cases payable) on savings make it less worthwhile to transfer money from current accounts to savings accounts. In effect, amid interest rates averaging a mere 0.1%, total interest credited in 2021 was only €585 million, the lowest amount seen in a decade. In addition, the attractiveness of alternatives, such as home investments and investments in securities, is also likely to have slowed down new deposits in savings accounts (see DNBulletin, 26 August 2021).
Savings fell off from March 2021 onwards
Savings were lower in full 2021 than in 2020. Net monthly deposits averaged €2.8 billion in 2021, against €3.6 billion in 2020 and €1.8 billion in 2019. There are striking periodic differences, however (Figure 2).
In January and February 2021, Dutch household savings were still substantial at €16,1 billion, especially compared with the corresponding period in previous years, i.e. before the COVID-19 pandemic. Disposable incomes of many households were bolstered, in part thanks to extensive government support. At the same time, the second lockdown caused a sharp drop in consumption in early 2021.
However, from March 2021 onwards, net saving deposits were below those in 2020 almost every month. Only in June 2021 did net deposits exceed the 2020 amounts, as was the case in December 2021, when a new lockdown was imposed in the Netherlands. Private consumption recovered strongly as containment measures were gradually relaxed. In addition, consumer confidence improved. Savings were also dampened by rising prices, caused, among other things, by supply chain bottlenecks and rising energy prices. As a result, according to the latest estimates, the savings rate, which expresses savings as a percentage of disposable income, will be 10.9% for full 2021. This is considerably below the figure for the first quarter of 2021, which stood at 17% (Economic Developments and Outlook, December 2021).
DNBulletin on household savings, 26 August 2021:
Households expect not to spend the vast majority of savings accumulated during the pandemic period on consumption
Economic Developments and Outlook, December 2021:
Economic Developments and Outlook December 2021 (dnb.nl - available in Dutch)
Dutch household savings (table):
Data search (dnb.nl)
Household savings (dashboard):
Household savings (dnb.nl)
Key indicators monetary statistics (table):
Data search (dnb.nl)
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