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Spending on clothes has gone down, so why do we need bigger wardrobes?

UK households spent less on average per week on shoes and clothing in 2008 than at any time since 2001-02, according to ‘Family Spending’, the annual report on household expenditure from the Office for National Statistics.


Spending on clothing and footwear fell to an average of £21.60 per week from a high of £23.90 in 2004-05. Why did we spend less? Primarily because of the credit crunch which led to a lot of high street discounting towards the end of 2008. So why do we need bigger wardrobes? Primarily because the evidence shows that while we are spending less on clothes, we are actually buying more of them. This is what some have called the “Primark Effect”.  Evidence shows that consumers are now spending £1 in every £4 on budget fashions.

We are spending less on clothes overall but buying more cheaper clothes.

We are spending less on clothes overall but buying more cheaper clothes.


However, in total, average UK household weekly expenditure was £471.00 in 2008, compared to £459.20 in 2007. In fact, most categories of spending went up in 2008, with food and non-alcoholic drinks rising to £50.70 per week compared to £48.10 in 2007. There was also a rise in spending on electricity, gas and other fuels to £18.90 from £17.20.


The single largest category of expenditure is transport, with the average weekly household spend rising from £61.70 in 2007 to £63.40 in 2008.


The figures also reveal an interesting difference between rural and urban areas. In 2008, the average spend in rural areas was £505.40 compared to £446.70 in towns and cities. This difference was mainly due to spending on transport, recreation and culture.


The survey also found strong regional differences. Northern Ireland had the largest average weekly household expenditure at £479.70 with Wales showing the lowest spend at £406.70. Also, in England the north-south divide was very evident with above average spending stretching from the South-West, to London, the South-East and the East. The lowest level of expenditure was in the North East, although the statisticians at the ONS have probably never visited Newcastle’s Bigg Market on a weekend evening – or any evening come to that.

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Posted in Consumer Expenditure

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