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Northern Ireland tops UK table for splashing cash on beauty products, food and takeaways

By Allan Preston

Northern Ireland households spend twice as much a week on takeaways and cigarettes as the rest of the UK, while making savings on rent and holidays, according to government figures.

The report from the Office of National Statistics shows households here spend just over £500 a week in total, compared to £528.90 in the rest of the UK.

Expenses such as petrol and electricity continue to be much higher in Northern Ireland, but with rent and spend on holidays far lower.

For takeaway meals every week, £9.60 was spent by local households, with the rest of the UK figure £4.50. Cigarettes amounted to a £6.60 weekly bill, with the rest of the UK on £3.20.

Looking good remains a key concern here, with households spending £5.60 a week on hairdressing and beauty treatments, £2 more than other regions.

Clothing costs were also higher, with £12.10 spent on women's clothing each week, almost £5 above the national average. For men's clothing the gap was almost £6 higher than the national average, at £9.90.

For grocery lists, spend on food and non-alcoholic drinks in the UK overall was £56.80, with Northern Ireland's total at approximately £64, with more spent on foods like bread, buns, chocolate and potatoes.

For alcohol costs, drinks at home were level with the rest at £8, but £9.60 was spent on drinks out, £2 more than elsewhere. Fuel and electricity costs continue to be higher in Northern Ireland. Petrol and diesel cost around £33 a week, with costs in the rest of the UK at £21.60.

Overall transport costs amount to £66, behind the UK average of £72.70.

Household fuels amount to £31, £6 higher than the £25 elsewhere.

Savings for the household kitty in Northern Ireland are found on outgoings like rent, holidays and transport.

Average net rent here is £44.60 a week, less than half the £92 UK average. When it comes to dining out and holidays, Northern Ireland remains just behind other UK regions.

Spend on restaurants and hotels here is £39.80, slightly lower than the five-year high elsewhere of £45.

For holidays Northern Ireland families spent £20.90 a week, £12 less than the rest.

The Office for National Statistics said weekly spend has remained static from the previous year and shows a slowdown in consumer confidence.

Low income households continued to spend less on food and energy than higher income families.

ONS statistician Jo Bulman commented: "While overall household spending didn't change much in real terms since the previous year, we did see some interesting shifts in the types of things people are spending their money on - for example, the average spending on alcohol and tobacco fell below £12 a household for the first time as people spend less on cigarettes.

"However, households spent more than £45 a week on restaurants and hotels for the first time in five years. Over half of spending on communications went on mobile phone costs."

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