Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland homes are UK's top spenders on booze and cigs


By Claire McNeilly

Northern Ireland has one of the highest weekly food and drink bills in the UK, a new report shows.

Our taste for the finer things in life is one factor behind the high rate of expenditure.

Households pay out £62.50 weekly on food and non-alcoholic drinks - more than anywhere else bar the South East of England.

Households here also spent more than any other UK region on alcohol, tobacco and narcotics (£16.10 compared to a UK average of £11.80), as well as clothing and footwear (£35.60 versus a weekly UK average of £24.10).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said one reason is that the average household size here (2.5 people) is larger than the UK average (2.3 people).

The report also points to cultural differences - here we consider items such as good quality cuts of meat to be more of an essential food item compared with those in England.

Yesterday's bulletin reveals that households here spent almost £500 per week on average between April 2015 and March 2017.

The figure - which falls just under £40 short of the UK average weekly outlay (£536.80) -represents a return to levels seen before the economic downturn, according to the ONS.

Data shows that transport was the top spending category in 10 of the 13 UK regions, with Northern Ireland households forking out £67 a week between April 2015 and March 2017, compared to a UK average of £75.30.

The ONS report into household spending in the UK also reveals that we devote 13% of our total expenditure to food and non-alcoholic drinks (£62.50), compared with the UK average of 11% (£57.70).

Northern Ireland households also spent a higher proportion of total expenditure on restaurant and cafe meals and takeaway meals when compared with Britain.

Senior ONS statistician Robynne Davies said: "Average weekly household spending in Northern Ireland was £497 for financial years ending 2015-2017.

"This makes Northern Ireland the second highest spending country in the UK for this time period.

"Like the UK as a whole, transport was the top spending category at £67 a week."

After adjusting for inflation, weekly household spending has not been this high since the financial year ending 2006, yesterday's report said.

Across the UK, households spent an average of £75.30 a week on transport, which the ONS said was likely driven by people buying cars, an increase in the cost of running vehicles, and a rise in the price of transport services, like air fares.

In Northern Ireland, which spends less on this than any other UK region, that fell to £66.60.

For the first time, recreation and culture was the second highest spending category overall. UK households spent an average of £70.20 a week on goods and services that fell into this category.

Again, Northern Ireland spent less than any other UK region, forking out £57.10.

Conversely, the average local household dedicates £52.40 a week to housing, fuel and power, which is the least of any UK region, and sits well below the £72.60 average.

The data shows that, in London, households spend £643.70 weekly, while in the North East of England they spend around £437, figures covering the period 2015 to 2017 show.

In Scotland, the average household spend is £492.30, in Wales it is £458.70, in England it is £547.40, and in Northern Ireland it is £497.10.

Belfast Telegraph

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