Online purchases by citizens for private use

Share of citizens making online purchases for private use

Statbel, Eurostat, processed by Statistics Flanders


The Eurostat survey defines e-commerce as follows: purchases or orders of goods or services via a website or an app for private use, including any purchases on internet auctions such as eBay, of e.g. films, music, books, software and hardware, household goods, clothing, food, shares, bonds, service cheques, concert and theatre tickets,...

The type of device (computer, tablet, phablet, mobile phone, smartphone, pda etc.) which is used to make these purchases or orders is irrelevant. The order is only valid if you placed the order yourself, even if you did it for someone else. The nature of the payment (whether or not online) is irrelevant. Orders or purchases via a hand-typed e-mail, sms or mms are not considered e-commerce, nor are products that are free of charge or orders or purchases for professional use.

Origin of the vendor: this refers to the postal address of the vendor who delivers the goods or services. For digital goods or services, this refers to the address of the firm that offers the goods or services online.

The educational level is based on the internationally recognized International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). People with a low education are those who either do not have a diploma or have at most a diploma of lower secondary education (first degree) (ISCED 0-2). People with a medium education have at most a certificate of higher secondary or ‘post-secondary’ (not higher) education (ISCED 3-4). People with a high education have a higher education diploma (ISCED 5-6).

The household income is the average monthly net income of all household members combined. 

Remarks on quality

The survey on ICT usage  in households and by individuals (ICT survey among households and individuals) is an annual survey coordinated by Eurostat in the Member States of the European Union. Statbel (the General Directorate of Statistics of the Federal Public Service (FPS) Economy, Statistics Belgium) is responsible for organising the survey in Belgium and for processing the Belgian figures.

In Belgium, the sample of the ICT survey among households and individuals is a sub-sample of the Labour Force Survey (LFS). After conducting the Labour Force Survey, the interviewer asks the person in the household who has had his/her birthday most recently and is at least 16 but younger than 75 whether he/she would like to complete the ICT survey autonomously. Since 2009, two methods of data collection have been used: CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interviewing) via a web application and SAPQ (Self Administered Paper Questionnaire) via a paper form. Before 2009 the survey was conducted face-to-face in the presence of an interviewer. A reminder including a new questionnaire is sent if the household has not replied within 14 days.

The households eligible for the ICT survey are private households with at least one person in the age range of 16 to 74 who, in the first or second quarter, participate in the on-going Labour Force Survey. The fieldwork is carried out from January to the end of August. Before the reform of the LFS in 2017, the second quarter sufficed to have enough households, and the fieldwork was carried out from April until the end of August.

After validation, the net sample of 2019 contained 6,083 households. That is 67.4% of the households that participated in the Labour Force Survey 2019 and that were eligible for the ICT survey among households and individuals on the basis of the stated age criterion, and 49.7% of the initial gross sample of the Labour Force Survey 2019 with the exclusion of the households that did not satisfy the stated age criterion. The 6,083 households that made up the net sample are spread over the three regions as follows: 776 from the Brussels-Capital Region, 3,138 from the Flemish Region and 2,169 from the Walloon Region.



Statbel: ICT use in households
Metadata Statbel: ICT use in households
Eurostat: ICT use in households


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