Trade intensity rises 9% in first quarter 2023

Reading Time 5 minutes | Written by Anne de Geus | April 26, 2023

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Rotterdam, April 26, 2023 - The relative intensity with which Dutch companies trade increased by more than 9 percent in the first quarter of 2023, compared to the period October through December 2022. That is according to analysis by Altares Dun & Bradstreet. The business data specialist saw that at the end of March, the Dutch economy sits at 79.7 percent of its January 2020 benchmark intensity, when Altares Dun & Bradstreet put the trade intensity index at 100. It was still at 73.1 percent at the end of December.

March 2023's 79.7 percent is up about 2 percent from the end of February this year (78.1). Altares Dun & Bradstreet analyzes, among other things, the size and number of invoice flows between companies to arrive at this figure. A year ago, by the way, companies traded more than they do now. As recently as March 2022, the index stood at 87.

Hope for hospitality and retail sector

The largest correction toward the January 2020 norm occurred in the hospitality and retail industries. Pubs and restaurants traded 5.8 percent higher than at the end of February, but were still much busier a year earlier (9.1 points). Retailers saw trade intensify by 6.7 percent, the largest increase among all industries, but this sector was also busier in March 2022. Back then, the trade intensity index was 94.6; it is now 85.5.

If the evolution of the intensity of these sectors is a direct reflection of the consumer confidence, they clearly show the way forward.

Contraction in construction

There was only one sector in which relative trade intensity fell between February and March. That was in construction, where the intensity is still only at 70.9 percent of that of January 2020. In February, it was still 71.4 percent. Of all sectors measured, this is immediately the lowest index. Agriculture, horticulture and fishing are the only industries also below a score of 75.

Joris Peeters, Chief Data Analyst at Altares Dun & Bradstreet: "The aftermath of corona and the war in Ukraine chopped firmly into trade intensity in the second half of 2022. Rising energy prices, equipment and labor costs and interest rates quickly took their toll. Most recently, the port of Rotterdam reported that the container throughput in the first quarter was a lot lower. In part this seems to be due to weaker trade with Russia, but also due to general economic developments and lower trade intensity over the past year. After an extended period where trade intensity was consistently down, the increase comes as a welcome change."

Joris adds: "For companies looking to re-intensify their business after corona, the figures are good news despite the difficult conditions. These show that there are opportunities to pick up business again. And do the general economic expectations of future evolution seem to be the confirm economic growth. How far the intensity will increase remains to be seen, but any structural increase is already a step in the right direction. The increasing intensity confirms what we also see in the analysis of bankruptcies. When bankruptcies rise, it is often also an indication of a more intense business environment; in an active economy, more bankruptcies fall, that is not a bad thing."

Bekijk here het hele rapport.

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