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Housing, fuel and power becomes highest spending category in 2012

Latest ONS release looks at average household spending in 2012

The latest ONS figures show that households spent £489 on average per week in 2012. Once inflation is taken into account (adjusting to 2012 prices), average spending has decreased since 2006, when households spent £526.40. This is consistent with some of the trends seen in the economy during this period, with GDP falling by 7.2% between 2008 and 2009 and intermittent economic recovery between 2009 and 2012. The highest spend in 2012 was on housing, fuel and power, followed by transport and recreation and culture.

Housing, fuel and power spending overtakes transport for the first time in recent years

The highest spend in 2012 was on housing, fuel and power (excluding mortgages) for the first time at £68.00, overtaking transport spending. This category includes rent, fuel, electricity and maintenance. The rise is likely to have been driven in part by rises in electricity and gas prices, and this is an area where there may be limited scope for many households to reduce consumption. The cold winters of 2011 and 2012 also contributed to essential spending on heating.

Another factor is rent payments. The proportion of households renting has increased in recent years, from 29% to 34%. The increase in this category was in contrast to the general trend as most types of spending stayed relatively stable or decreased slightly over the period.

Motorists reduce expenditure through reducing journeys and better fuel efficiency

Transport has seen the biggest spending reduction (once inflation is taken into account by adjusting to 2012 prices), falling from £87.10 per week in 2001/2 to £64.10 in 2012.  The price of petrol increased substantially over this period, and it’s likely that motorists have responded to this by reducing journeys. Spending on petrol (£16.40) combined with diesel (£8.20) accounted for almost two fifths of the transport costs.

Fuel efficiency of vehicles has also improved and diesel engines have become more popular, enabling motorists to offset the impact of rising prices. More on average was spent on second-hand cars and vans (£11.90 per week) than new cars and vans (£4.70 per week). In comparison, £10.50 was spent on transport services such as rail, tube and bus fares.

Increased spending on clothing despite overall drop in price

The third highest spend is recreation and culture, with an average household expenditure of £61.50 per week,  this category includes spending on TVs, computers, newspapers, books and leisure activities. It also includes package holidays abroad, with an average weekly expenditure of £16.80 per week.  Average weekly expenditure on food and non-alcoholic drinks in 2012 was £56.80, £15.00 of which was spent on meat and fish, £4.20 on fresh vegetables, and £3.20 on fresh fruit.

Expenditure on clothing and footwear increased from £15.30 per week in 2001/2 to £23.40 in 2012, adjusted for inflation, and this increase has taken place despite the overall drop in the price of clothing. Adjusted to 2012 prices, spending on hotels and restaurants decreased from £47.50 per week in 2001/2 to £40.50 in 2012, and spending on household goods and services also decreased, from £35.70 to £28.50. 

Where can I find out more about family spending statistics?

These statistics were analysed by the Living Costs and Food (LCF) survey team at the ONS using LCF data. If you’d like to find out more about household expenditure read the Family Spending publication or view the infographic or video. If you have any comments or suggestions, we’d like to hear them! Please email us at:

Categories: Economy, Personal Finances, Consumers and Customers, Personal Expenditure, People and Places, Housing and Households, Households, Household Income and Expenditure
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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