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Family spending power still growing, but at slower pace

Family spending power grew at its slowest pace for a year in November, but households still enjoyed an extra £14 in their pockets, a report has found.

The average UK household had £193 a week of discretionary income last month - up 7.7% on a year earlier, according to the Asda income tracker.

This marked more than a year of double digit increases, but also saw a sharp slowdown on the £17 average rise in disposable income over the rest of 2015.

The report said this was partly as a result of a slight rise in inflation, which lifted to 0.1% in November, ending two months in a row of mild deflation.

Economists believe last month's slight rise in inflation was the start of a very gradual return towards the Bank of England's 2% target, although plunging oil prices are set to keep a lid on increases in the cost of living.

Ultra low inflation and rising wages have helped boost household finances over the past year and the Asda income tracker showed spending power has risen on an annual basis for two years.

The report, which is compiled for Asda by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), found that spending in 2015 shifted from food and drink towards so-called big ticket items, as well as leisure and fun.

The number of people who bought vehicles jumped higher in the first three quarters of the year, with spending on car purchases up 11.5% compared to the same period in 2014.

Splashing cash on jewellery and watches also proved popular, increasing 9.1% on the same period last year.

Sam Alderson, economist at Cebr, said: "While growth in spending power has slowed to its lowest level in the past 12 months, the boost is still considerable - particularly given that spending power has risen on an annual basis for over two years.

"Buoyed by these increases, households have increased spending over the past year - particularly on big ticket items such as jewellery and household appliances."

Fuel and petrol costs fell by 12.9% year-on-year in November, while energy bills dropped by 4.2% and food and drink prices were 2.4% lower, according to the report.

Mortgage costs also fell, down 1.2% last month, with many providers offering record low interest rates.

Lower outgoings have helped free up cash to splash elsewhere, with the report showing 8.3% more was spent on recreational and cultural activities in the first three quarters of the year and 2.5% extra on dining out.

There was also a 6.6% increase in spend on furniture between January and the end of September, while spend on gardening goods and plants rose 8.7% year on year.

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