Does it pay to be average?

Are you Mr or Ms Average when it comes to your family’s weekly shopping habits? Read on to find out

Gareth Fuller/PA Wire A general view of grocery shopping
A general view of grocery shopping

When it comes to everyday spending, many of us pay out a little money here and a little there without giving it too much thought.

But new official figures lay bare exactly how these ‘little’ bits of cash on day-to-day goods and services can add up.

Average weekly household spending in the UK increased to £517.30 in 2013, compared with £501 in 2012, according to a report from the Office for National Statistics.

Of course, there are regional variations, and the typical weekly amount shelled out by a household is £505.40 in England, £438.80 in Wales, £449 in Scotland and £484.70 in Northern Ireland.

Digging further into the figures, the report gives some interesting insights into exactly how much of the average family’s shopping list goes on certain items.

So, if you’re a Mr or a Ms Average, your household will collectively spend 70p a week on coffee, 50p on tea, £7.10 on alcoholic drinks consumed while away from home, £1.80 on chocolate, £1 on potatoes, £6 on mobile phone fees, £4.20 on takeaways and £1.10 on live entertainment.

Some £5.60 a week is spent by ‘the Averages’ on bread, rice and cereals, £3.60 goes on buns, cakes and biscuits, while £2.20 goes on pet food. Additionally, 80p is spent on toilet paper while £3.40 goes on beauty treatments and trips to the hairdresser.

The precise pricing doesn’t stop there...

The Averages’ weekly shopping list also includes £15.60 spent on meat and fish, £4.30 on fresh vegetables and £3.30 on fresh fruit. They will spend £2 a week on women’s shoes and £1.50 on footwear for men. They spend £1.10 a week on underwear for women and 40p a week on underwear for men, 80p a week goes on clothes for boys, while 90p is put towards clothes for girls.

The biggest chunk of a family’s weekly spend is swallowed up by housing, fuel and power. More was spent by the average household last year in this category than on anything else, at £74.40 a week on average.

This was followed by transport-related spending, which amounted to £70.40 each week – around £15.70 a week is spent on petrol, while around £7.60 a week goes on diesel.

Mortgages, which are included in a separate, “other expenditure items” category, typically cost £145.40 a week last year for those that had them. For those households who were renting, their rental costs amounted to £92.10 per week on average in 2013.

Across the UK, while household spending has increased on 2012 (when inflation is taken into account), it is still lower than in 2006, just before the financial downturn took hold, when households spent an average of £539.80 per week.

So what’s the reason for this increase, which amounts to £16.30 between 2012 and 2013?

Well, one reason is that some people who have been making do with older cars following the economic downturn finally decided to upgrade to a new vehicle last year. This has helped to push up costs in its transport category.

Another factor is that more people have turned to renting in recent years, which has also increased costs in the housing, fuel and power category.

One final aspect of families’ outgoings is that despite tough economic times in recent years, they have kept up their spending when it comes to enjoying their hobbies leisure time, perhaps in the quest for a bit of escapism. Recreation and culture was the third highest expenditure category in 2013, with around £63.90 spent on it a week last year by families.

This includes spending on TVs, computers, newspapers, books, leisure activities and package holidays – around £21 a week was typically spent on package holidays abroad last year, while £1.40 a week went on package holidays within the UK.

Mr and Ms Average also spent £2.30 a week last year enjoying trips to the cinema, theatre and museums, £5.50 on sports and £2.30 on games, toys and hobbies – whoever said budgeting can’t be fun?


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer