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Chapter 4: Trends in Household Expenditure Over Time This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 11 December 2013 Download PDF

Key Points

  • In 2006 (adjusted to 2012 prices), households spent an average of £526.40 a week. This declined to £489.00 in 2012.
  • Housing (net), fuel and power became the category with the highest average spending in 2012, at £68.00 per week. This category includes: housing rental payments, fuel and electricity for the home, and housing maintenance and repair. It does not include mortgage payments. “Net” rent refers to the amount spent on rent after removing housing benefit and related allowances.
  • Housing (net), fuel and power accounted for 11 per cent of household expenditure in 2001/02, on average, compared with 14 per cent in 2012.

  • The biggest drop in spending was seen in transport. Expenditure on transport was at its highest in 2001/02, at £87.10 when adjusted to 2012 prices, falling to £64.10 in 2012.

  • Transport expenditure accounted for 17 per cent of household expenditure in 2001/02, on average, compared with 13 per cent in 2012.

The results show some signs that households are limiting their spending on some discretionary items, but the picture is more complex than that. For example, spending on clothing and footwear increased slightly, against the general trend. The following sections explore this in more detail.

About this Chapter

This chapter examines trends in household expenditure over time. Table 4.1 (101 Kb Excel sheet) and Table 4.2 (112 Kb Excel sheet) present expenditure for the years 2001/02 to 2012, adjusted to take account of inflation mainly using the Consumer Prices Index (CPI). This enables a meaningful comparison of expenditure to be made between survey years. Year-on-year comparisons must be treated with caution, because each year the LCF is reviewed and changes are made to keep it up to date. More detail on this is given in the Background section. Expenditure over the same period is also shown at “current” prices, that is, without adjusting for inflation ( Table 4.3 (101 Kb Excel sheet) ).


This chapter presents household expenditure data over time using the Classification of Individual COnsumption by Purpose (COICOP) classification. The expenditure figures have been deflated to allow comparison of expenditure in real terms across survey years.

The figures and tables in this section present figures that have been deflated to 2012 prices using the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), using indices specific to each major COICOP category. This is with the exception of specific items to which the CPI is not applicable: for mortgage interest payment and council tax payments the Retail Prices Index (RPI) was used. The approach used to deflate figures to 2012 prices is different from previous editions, when the all-items RPI was used.

Previous editions have also reported tables based on the Family Expenditure Survey (FES) classification, used by the survey for years prior to 2001/02. Tables based on the FES classification are not presented here, but can be made available on request. The time series presented based on COICOP has been increased to encompass the full range of years on which the survey has reported on COICOP, 2001/02 to 2012.

Each year the LCF is reviewed and changes are made to keep it up to date. As such, year-on-year changes should be interpreted with caution. A detailed breakdown of the items that feed into each COICOP heading can be found in Table A1 (186 Kb Excel sheet) , while details of definition changes can be found in Appendix B.

Trends for the categories with lower levels of spending need to be treated with a degree of caution as the standard errors for these categories tend to be higher (standard errors are discussed in more detail in Appendix B). It should be noted that there may be under-reporting on certain items (notably tobacco and alcohol).

COICOP time series data in this publication are not directly comparable with UK National Accounts household expenditure data, which are published in Consumer Trends. (This publication can be downloaded from the Office for National Statistics website. National Accounts figures draw on a number of sources in addition to the LCF (please refer to Appendix B of Consumer Trends for details) and may be more appropriate for deriving long term trends on expenditure.

Table 4.1 to Table 4.3

Table 4.1 to 4.3 can be accessed using the links on this page.

Table 4.1 (101 Kb Excel sheet) Household expenditure based on COICOP classification, 2001-02 to 2012 at 2012 prices United Kingdom

Table 4.2 (112 Kb Excel sheet) Household expenditure as a percentage of total expenditure based on COICOP classification, 2001-02 to 2012 at 2012 prices United Kingdom

Table 4.3 (101 Kb Excel sheet) Household expenditure 2001-02 to 2012 COICOP based on current prices United Kingdom

Background notes

  1. Symbols and conventions used in Family Spending 2013 edition

    [ ]  Figures should be used with extra caution because they are based on fewer than 20 reporting households.

    .. The data is suppressed if the unweighted sample counts are less than 10 reporting households.

    - No figures are available because there are no reporting households.

    Rounding: Individual figures have been rounded independently. The sum of component items does not therefore necessarily add to the totals shown.

    Averages: These are averages (means) for all households included in the column or row, and unless specified, are not restricted to those households reporting expenditure on a particular item or income of a particular type.

    Period covered: Calendar year 2012 (1 January 2012 to 31 December 2012).

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