New economic data from the EU’s statistical office shows that retail trade and service production numbers were down in September, and while tourism recovered strongly in 2022, some post-COVID struggles remain.
The EU’s tourism industry continues its steady recovery after it was buffeted by the COVID-19 pandemic, yet business trips are struggling to bounce back as strongly, according to Eurostat.
The EU’s statistical office said on 8 November that 1.08 billion tourism trips were made by EU residents last year. That’s an additional 23% compared to 2021.
Eurostat looked at trips of at least one night away – whether for business (9%) or pleasure (91%) – and found that EU travellers spent an average of €87 per night, marking an increase of €20 more compared to the previous year.
Travellers from Luxembourg were the biggest spenders per night, with an average of €175, while Polish travellers only spent an average €44.3 per night away.
Although the overall picture is quite positive, numbers still aren’t back to the pre-COVID era. The Eurostat report underlines that compared to 2019, the year before the pandemic, personal trips registered a -4% difference last year.
The same figures were even down 20% last year compared to 2019 when looking at business trips.
A possible explanation could be the rise in remote working, and the boom in video calls and online business meetings, allowing companies to cut costs on now-obsolete business trips.
Europe’s retail trade decline
Eurostat also published retail sales data for September of this year. On average, retail sales decreased by 2.7% in the EU compared with the same month last year, and 2.9% in the euro area.
The September figures also show a decline compared with the previous month, with a retail sales decrease of 0.2% in the EU and 0.3% in the eurozone.
The retail sales’ drop was the sharpest in Slovenia, with a decline of 17% compared with the same time last year. On the contrary, Spanish retail sales increased by 7.5% in September 2022, compared with September 2023.
Europeans bought less fuel in September 2023 than during the same time last year, with a 6.9% difference in the EU, 7.5% in the euro area.
The consumption of goods that remained relatively quite stable compared with last year was the category ‘food, drinks and tobacco’, with an average drop of 0.95% only for both the EU and eurozone.
Production boost for the service sector
Services production continued on their post-pandemic recovery path, with a 2.4% increase in the EU in August of this year compared to 2022, and 2.9% in the euro area.
Compared with July 2023, August saw a 0.3% increase for the production of services in the EU, and 0.5% in the eurozone.
Eurostat’s definition of services excludes public and financial services.
The outbreak of COVID-19 obviously had a dramatic effect on the service industry.
Eurostat notes that although the sector has since recovered, the only category that had a slower comeback was the hotel and accommodation services, which was still below its 2019 level in 2022.
However, the latest encouraging figures from the tourism industry could change that in 2023.
Source: Euro News