Household budget survey (HBS)

Belgian households spend more on food, drinks and tobacco

Belgian households spend more on food, drinks and tobacco

New results Belgian Household Budget Survey

In 2020, Belgian households spent 18.1% of their budget on food, drinks and tobacco. In 2018, this was still 16%. The biggest chunk of the budget, 31.8%, goes to housing (rent, water, energy, maintenance and other costs). Added to this, 6.7%, or 2,348 euros per year, is spent on the purchase of furniture, domestic appliances and maintenance products and tools for home and garden, etc. This is what emerged from new figures of Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, based on a survey among 6,000 Belgian households. This biennial survey is used, among other things, as input for updating the index basket and for estimating household consumption expenditure in the national accounts.

In 2020, Belgian households spent on average 35,209 euros, Flemish households 36,447 euros, Walloon households 34,096 euros and households in Brussels 32,057 euros, In 2018, Belgian households spent an average of €35,764. In Flanders it was €36,895, in Wallonia €34,589 and in the Brussels-Capital Region €33,356.


Average expenditure for all households as a percentage of total expenditure

COICOP Description Flanders Wallonia Brussels
01 Food and non-alcoholic beverages 16.0% 15.6% 16.2%
02 Alcoholic beverages, tobacco and narcotics 2.1% 2.4% 1.9%
03 Clothing and footwear 3.7% 2.7% 3.7%
04 Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels 31.1% 32.2% 34.6%
045 Electricity, gas and other fuels 4.3% 5.4% 3.8%
05 Furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance 7.6% 5.4% 5.0%
06 Health 5.0% 5.3% 5.4%
07 Transport 9.1% 11.5% 7.6%
0711 Motor cars 3.9% 5.4% 2.8%
08 Information and communication 3.2% 3.4% 3.4%
09 Recreation, sport and culture 6.4% 5.9% 6.5%
095 Newspapers, books and stationery 0.9% 0.8% 1.4%
0951 Books 0.4% 0.3% 0.8%
10 Education services 0.7% 0.2% 0.8%
11 Restaurants and accommodation services 4.8% 3.7% 4.7%
1111 Restaurants, cafés and the like 3.9% 3.2% 3.6%
1120 Hotels en soortgelijke huisvestingsdiensten 0.8% 0.4% 1.0%
12 Insurance and financial services 10.2% 11.7% 10.2%

Household budget survey (HBS)

Purpose and brief description

EU-HBS (European Union – Household Budget Survey or HBS) is a survey on consumption expenditure of households. It is an important tool to describe the consumption habits of the population in a year's time, both at Belgian and European level.

The purpose of the survey is to create a general framework for the production of "community" statistical information at national and European level on the consumption of households, based on cross-sectional data (amount, composition, etc.) on the items of their budgets.

The survey is also the main source to compile the consumer price index. The choice of representative items and their weights in the basket are deeply reviewed every two years based on the most recent HBS. The next review will take place in January 2020 (base year 2013 = 100) based on the HBS 2018. For the years where there is no new HBS, the weights are adjusted via a price-update and new representative items can be added via a redistribution of the weights of the higher group level.


All private households living in Belgium. Collective households like residential care centres are excluded.

Data collection method and sample size

Households participating to the survey receive the visit of an interviewer. They also receive an expenditure logbook in which they write all their expenditure during 15 days (either the first half of a month or the last). This can be done either on paper or online. Then the interviewer comes back to fill in a digital questionnaire.

Between 1999 and 2010, just over 300 households were interviewed each month from a separate, stand-alone sample. In one year's time, a sample of around 3,700 households was obtained.

Since 2012, the survey has been conducted biannually, but with a larger sample (the target is at least 5,000 participating households per year). The sample is no longer separate. Until 2016, the sample was integrated into the Labour Force Survey (LFS). From 2018 onwards, the sample consists of three parts, due to a methodological change in LFS: the full LFS sample is used, supplemented by the HBS 2016 sample and an additional sample from the national register.

The households that properly participate in the survey (i.e. fill in all the documents properly) receive a financial compensation.

Response rate

2016: 9% of the households contacted via LFS.

2018: 9% of the households contacted via LFS, 30 % of the households contacted via HBS 2016 and 6 % of the households contacted via the national register.


Annual (from 1999 to 2010).

Biennial (from 2012)

Release calendar

Results available from 6 months to 1 year after the reference period (from 2012 onwards)



A household consists either of a single person, usually living alone, or of two or more persons who, whether or not related to one another by kinship, usually live in one and the same dwelling and live there together.

The adjusted consumption unit is an equivalence scale used to adjust consumption expenditure to household size and composition. A coefficient of 1 is allocated to the first adult, a coefficient of 0.5 to the other persons older than13, and a coefficient of 0.3 to children younger than 13 (adjusted OECD scale).


Warning: The nominal values of HBS 2016 are not comparable with those of previous years because the extrapolation method has been improved. However, this new method hardly influences the breakdown of expenditure.


Table of equivalences between the nomenclatures COICOP-HBS-BE (HBS 2014) and ECOICOP-BE (HBS 2016).xls


Reports and articles

Methodological note HBS 2020.pdf

Methodological note HBS 2018.pdf

Methodological note HBS 2016.pdf

SOURCETM on the authority of EUROSTAT