Turnover in the services sector (according to VAT returns)

In 3 out of 4 service sectors, turnover is higher than in the pre-corona era

Economic indicators
In 3 out of 4 service sectors, turnover is higher than in the pre-corona era

The turnover of almost all sectors monitored in this statistic increased in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year. Most companies were fully active in the third quarter of 2021 , while in some sectors companies were still (partially) closed or just starting up again in the third quarter of 2020 (e.g. air transport and travel and reservation services).

However, the Covid-19 crisis still had an impact on turnover in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019 due to the containment measures that were still in place in a number of sectors, such as the discouragement of non-essential travel and restrictions on the organisation of events, as a result of which the activities of travel agencies, tour operators, reservation services and airlines have not yet recovered to pre-crisis level.

In three quarters of the sectors monitored in this statistic, turnover increased in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. The largest increases in turnover were recorded in the sector ‘H53 Postal and courier activities’, the wholesale trade (G46) and in the sectors ‘M74 Other professional, scientific and technical activities’ and ‘J62 Computer programming, consultancy and related activities’. The most significant turnover decreases were registered in the sector ‘N79 Travel agency, tour operator and other reservation service and related activities’, in the sector ‘G45 Wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles’ and in air transport (H51).

This statistic gives the turnover indices for a number of sectors specified by Eurostat: the wholesale trade and a number of services such as transport, accommodation and food service activities, ICT, advertising and market research. The sectors are divided according to the 2008 NACE classification and Eurostat's specifications. Consequently, indices are also available for some subsectors on a more detailed level (e.g. G46) and other subsectors are brought together (e.g. M69 and M702). The indices per year give an overview of the evolution of the turnover for a particular sector during the last few years. The reference year is 2015. The quarterly indices reflect the evolution during a given year and can also be used to make year-on-year comparisons of a particular quarter. This way, they make it possible to detect cyclical changes. These indices are gross indices, but the user can create himself a table also showing the seasonally-adjusted indices and the trend. The figures of the last 2 years should always be considered as provisional and can still be revised due to late and/or different VAT returns.


Turnover index for the services sector (NACE 2008) according to VAT returns, last 5 years (base year = 2015)

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Purpose and brief description

Turnover includes all amounts (excluding VAT) that correspond to the sale of goods and services by the VAT payer to third parties in Belgium or abroad.


VAT-registered units, of the following NACE codes (nomenclature NACE 2008): divisions 45 and 46 and sections H to N.



Release calendar

Results available 2 months after the reference period.


Gross index (Turnover according to the VAT returns): An index shows the evolution of a variable with regard to its value during the initial period, which is called the base period (in general, the base period corresponds to one year).

Trend (Turnover according to VAT returns); The trend shows the underlying level of the original series, taking into account its long-term evolution.

Seasonally-adjusted index (Turnover according to the VAT returns): A seasonally-adjusted index takes into account the trend and the 'irregular component' (see below) of the original series, but not the seasonal and calendar effects. Seasonal effects are effects that are directly caused by the seasons or that arise from them through social customs. Calendar effects are effects that are caused by differences in the number of days per period, because of variable public holidays (e.g. Easter) or the occurrence or non-occurrence of a leap year.

Irregular component: The 'irregular component' is the part of the series that cannot be explained by the seasonal component and the trend and thus corresponds to unforeseen shocks (e.g. extreme weather phenomena, strikes).