Cash-strapped Italians cut back on spending

Consumer spending fell 2.8 percent in 2012, the biggest drop since 1997, when statistics agency Istat started its current measuring system.

Cash-strapped Italians cut back on spending
Consumer spending in Italy fell 2.8 percent in 2012. Photo: Karen/Flickr.

Italy's household consumption fell sharply last year, with style-conscious Italians cutting back on clothes and home furnishings,  the agency said on Friday.

Average monthly spending per household fell to €2,419 – 2.8 percent less than in 2011.

"Families are afraid of a recovery that is not coming," business daily Il Sole 24 Ore commented.

While spending on food products remained roughly stable, the figures showed Italians spent 10.3 percent less on clothes and 8.7 percent less on house products.

The amount of money spent on free time and culture also went down by 5.4 percent, while spending on energy went up 3.9 percent – a result of increased utility prices during Italy's prolonged recession. Spending on health and medicine was also down.

The drop in spending was more pronounced among couples with one or more children, while there was a slight increase in the monthly expenditure among elderly couples, Istat said.

The data showed gaping regional differences between average household spending of €2,919 a month in the Trentino-Alto Adige region in northern Italy and the €1,628 spent by households in Sicily.

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Italy has become a country of solo living

The number of single-person households is on the rise in Italy, fewer babies are being born and people are living longer, according to figures from Istat, the national statistics agency.

Italy has become a country of solo living
Stock image/Depositphotos

Italy’s low birth rate and aging population has long been recognised, but the more surprising aspect of Istat’s annual report for 2016 is that more people are living alone.

The rate of single-person households increased from 20.5 percent to 31.6 percent, while households made up of five or more people declined to 5.4 percent from 8.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the birthrate is continuing on its downward trend, with 12,342 fewer babies born in 2016 than in the previous year. Italy has the sixth lowest fertility rate in Europe, with 1.35 children born for every woman of child-bearing age.

At the same time, people are living longer, with life expectancy rising to 80.6 years for men and 85.1 years for women.

Italy’s population rate stood at 60,589,455 at the end of 2016, over 76,000 less than at the beginning of the year.

Foreigners make up 8.3 percent of the population, a figure that reflected little change from the previous year. The majority of Italy’s immigrant population come from the EU, followed by central and eastern Europe and North Africa.