Consumers spending more on cars and leisure, says ONS

Line of cars Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Consumers bought a record number of cars in 2014

Consumers are spending more on discretionary items such as cars, sport, and going out to the cinema, figures show.

Last year, household spending increased in real terms for the second year running, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In 2014, homes spent more money on transport and recreation, but less on rent and heating.

Transport became the biggest expense, at £74.80 a week, overtaking housing.

This was partly because consumers spent a lot more money buying cars, the ONS said. As many as 2.47 million new cars were bought in 2014, the highest number for a decade.

Pets and Pay TV

Including rent, fuel and power - but not mortgages - housing costs were £72.70 a week, slightly down on 2013.

Overall, average household spending in 2014 rose to £531 a week in real terms.

However, that was still below the peak of £554 that was reached, after adjusting for inflation, in 2004-05.

One of the most notable trends was the rise in spending on recreation and culture, which includes things such as pay-television, pets and going out to the cinema..

Such items cost UK households £68.80 a week on average, a rise of nearly £5 on 2013.

Food was the fourth biggest expense, at £58.80 a week, or 11% of total expenditure.

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Media captionSimon Gompertz looks at what we spent our money on in 2014


The TUC said too much household spending was being fuelled by borrowing.

"While it is good that consumer confidence is up, let's not pretend that everything is rosy," said Frances O'Grady, the TUC's general secretary.

"We need a wages-led recovery, not a re-run of the events that led to the last financial crash."

The property agent Savills said the ONS figures show rental costs falling for the first time in a decade.

But it said average rents had still risen by an average of 36% since 2008, while the cost of servicing a mortgage had actually fallen.

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