06.06.2013

The European consumer credit market in 2012: 1,056 billion euros in loans outstanding

Crédit Agricole Consumer Finance has published its annual survey of the consumer credit market in 27 European Union countries (EU-27) for the sixth year running.

With a total of 1,056 billion euros in loans outstanding at end-2012, the EU accounts for nearly one quarter of the global credit market. However, the loans are unevenly distributed, with five countries – the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain – accounting for more than 76 % of the total (but 63 % of the total EU population). Three zones stand out:

  • Northern Europe , which accounts for 58 % of total loans outstanding (41 % of the EU population) ;
  • Southern Europe  (including France), with 35 % of total loans outstanding (39 % of the EU population) ;
  • Eastern Europe , with 7 % of total loans outstanding (20 % of the EU population).


Over the last four years, the consumer credit market in Europe has declined by -8.8 %. This decline represents a decrease of more than 100 billion euros of total consumer credit outstandings in the EU between end-2008 (€ 1,158 billion ) and end-2012.

The European consumer credit market continued to contract in 2012, with a 1.9 % decline in outstandings between end-2011 and end-2012. All three zones showed negative trends during that period with -4.4 % for Eastern Europe; -3.2 % for Southern Europe, and -0.8 % for Northern Europe. However, there were differences between certain markets. Some saw steep falls in loans outstanding, such as Ireland (-14.5 %), Portugal (-12.7 %), and some others were resilient. 6 of the EU-27 countries enjoyed a positive trend between end-2011 and end-2012 : Slovakia (+ 10,1 %), Finland (+3,5 %) , Estonia (+ 1,5 %), Sweden (+ 1,4 %), Germany ( + 0,8 %), and Belgium (+ 0,5 %).

At the end of 2012, the average outstanding loan per EU inhabitant stood at 2,094 euros, down 2.2 % on the 2011 figure of 2,141 euros. This decline is apparent in almost all European countries. However, there are marked differences within the EU, ranging from 186 euros per capita in Lithuania to 3,984 euros in the United Kingdom.

The ratio of loans outstanding to total annual household consumption sheds light on the actual penetration rate of consumer credit. At the end of 2012, loans outstanding represented 14.4 % of annual household consumption in the EU-27, compared with 15.0 per cent in 2011.

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