Consumers hit record high spending

Mintel’s British Lifestyles report says that last year consumers parted with £1 trillion – a million million – amounting to £37,000 for every household in the country.

“The £1 trillion mark is a significant milestone in the expansion of the British consumer economy,” commented Paul Rickard, director of research at Mintel.

“The last ten years have clearly been the decade of big ticket purchases and the buoyant expenditure on these items such as holidays, cars, furniture and appliances reflects the growing affluence of the British nation as a whole.”

Spending is now approaching parity with UK debt levels which stands at around £1.1 trillion.

Even adjusting for inflation, spending has near-doubled in real terms since 1995 when it was £540 billion, with big purchases such as holidays, appliances and cars growing by 57 per cent.

Despite the threat of terrorism and natural disasters, holiday spending also grew on the back of cheap flights to account for a third of “considered expenditure”.

Yet even though spending and debt levels are rising, Mr Rickard said that consumers are becoming “more sensible again” with their debt management after borrowing highs in 2002.

But David Mond, ClearDebt chief executive, said that Mr Rickard must have “a new definition of the word sensible” as “the money must be coming from somewhere”.

“If the average household is spending £37,000 per year, then it is spending just short of one and three-quarters of the average Briton’s pre-tax income of £21,000 a year. One hopes it’s not all on the never-never,” he said.