Motor fuel prices contributed to the inflation decline. The petrol price paid by consumers at the filling station was on average 0.6 percent lower in March 2013 than in March 2012. The VAT rate for house and garden maintenance was reduced from 21 to 6 percent in March, which also had a downward effect on inflation.
Smoking became much more expensive in March, because excise tax on tobacco products was raised. The higher excise tax rate on tobacco products was introduced on 1 January, but consumers could still buy for old prices as stocks were large. Price developments for clothes and shoes also pushed up inflation.
The inflation rate in the Netherlands according to the European harmonised method stood at 3.2 percent for the third consecutive month. Inflation in the eurozone is currently 1.5 percentage points lower than in the Netherlands. The gap between the inflation rate in the Netherlands and the eurozone has not been so wide since June 2009.