Northern Ireland families are the UK's biggest spenders on food
The average household in Northern Ireland spends more on food than anywhere else in the UK, a new report has revealed.
The latest Family Spending Report from the Office of National Statistics shows that an average of £64 per week was spent on food here last year - 13% of our total weekly household expenditure.
We also top the UK league for spending on clothing and footwear (£35.90), and we come second only to Scotland in our spending on alcohol, tobacco and 'narcotics' (£14.90 per week).
The weekly budget of a Northern Ireland family last year was £484.10, with the lion's share being spent on food, fuel and transport.
Housing, fuel and power costs consumed £56.10 of our weekly family expenditure, while transport accounted for £64.40.
The report is packed with insights into the way we live today - and what we choose to spend our money on. Families here spend more on electricity (£13.60 per week) than any other UK region: the same is true of our spending on potatoes and meat products.
On the other hand, Northern Ireland spends the least in the UK on education (£3.20), while £56.50 of our family budget goes on 'recreation and culture'.
Across the UK as a whole, families spent an average of £58.80 on food and non-alcoholic drinks each week, buying £5.40 worth of bread, rice and cereals and spending £4.80 on drinks other than alcohol, £3.50 on fresh fruit, £4.20 on vegetables, £3.70 on buns, cakes and biscuits and £1.90 on chocolate.
Spending in rural areas was on average higher than in urban centres. The lowest-earning 10% of households spent an average of £188.50 per week, whereas the highest-earning 10% typically spent £1,143.40.
The detailed report reveals that families spent an average of £12.30 on alcohol, tobacco and 'narcotics', but just £9.80 on education and £7.10 on health.
Overall, households increased their spending in most categories between 2013 and last year in a sign of increasing consumer confidence.
One of the report's authors, Joanna Bulman, said spending fell in two categories - housing, fuel and power and alcohol and tobacco - the former in part because of warmer weather and better home insulation reducing energy consumption.
The UK fall in alcohol and tobacco spending was in large part due to a drop in cigarette buying, she said.
The report also shows that spending on food and non-alcoholic drinks has been level since 2011, partly because of the increase of discount supermarkets.
Spending on clothes and shoes fluctuated only slightly between 2011 and 2014, while spending on restaurants and hotels has followed a downward trend between the year ending March 2002 and 2014.