European consumer after the pandemic


European consumers after the pandemic

What sort of recovery will we get?

Understanding how European consumer behavior may change after the pandemic and how it will shape the economic recovery in Europe.

Emerging from the crisis

The European economy suffered a lot in 2020: two waves of COVID-19 infections, a high death toll and two lockdowns in most countries. The consequent economic recession was the deepest on record. While most of Europe is currently in the second lockdown, vaccination programmes are making progress, providing much-needed hope. The question of what will follow the recession is becoming crucial for companies. What is clear is that consumer expenditure – the largest component of gross domestic product and its main growth driver in recent years – will determine to a large degree how Europe emerges from the recession and what sort of recovery we get.

The calculation is difficult because this is a special recession. What makes it unique is that it was driven by the closure of whole sectors, ranging from international airlines to the local hairdresser. Consumer-facing service industries were worst affected by the effort to combat the virus. 

The consequence for executives in the consumer goods and retail industries is that they should not expect the recovery to follow the ‘normal’ post-recession pattern. The range of possible developments is much wider than usual and hinges on completely different factors, such as the speed of vaccination campaigns and the potential unleashing of pent-up demand.

To understand how European consumers might emerge from the crisis, it is crucial to understand how the recession differs from previous ones, how policymakers’ choices are affecting consumers and what scenarios are possible going forward.

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