Spotlight on consumer spending habits over the last decade


Where would you spend money 10 years ago? What do you buy today? Inevitably, over time, how we spend money – and what we buy – has changed. So, what do individuals splash their cash on these days, and how have patterns of consumption changed over the last decade?

Spending habits: then versus now

In the 21st century, we have been introduced to making purchases over the internet – and it’s changed the face of the high street forever. No matter whether individuals want to order food, buy a new outfit, invest in a car, or pay their bills, it can now all be done online. Today, people do not need to leave the comfort of their own front room when they want to buy something – they can simply grab their mobile, tablet or laptop, type in a website and conveniently make a purchase instantly. In addition to this technology, we have also seen smart speakers becoming a must-have gadget, allowing us to compile shopping lists and even make purchases while chatting to our audio assistants.

Britain’s high-street stores, as a result, have suffered significantly. In 2019, several chains collapsed, including popular brands such as Karen Millen and Mothercare. Facing pressure from low consumer spending, and the shift to online shopping, many have been unable to stay in business.  

As the UK makes its way towards being a cashless society, it has an even bigger impact on our spending habits. For spends of £30 or less, consumers can now use their cards for contactless transactions – simply tapping the screen to make a purchase before heading out again on their way. While some love that it’s easy, quick and convenient, this way of spending is not favoured by everyone.

What we are spending our money on today

Aside from the obvious spending on housing, fuel, power and transport, individuals are choosing to spend their money on a number of other things. According to the Office for National Statistics, the average UK household spent approximately £572 a week in the financial year ending 2018. While 14.1% of this went on transport and 13.3% went on housing, fuel and power, 8.7% of it went on restaurants and hotels, and 4.2% went on clothing and footwear. This data suggests that individuals in today’s society enjoy spending their money on socialising and picking up the latest fashion items. 

What do you think the next decade may hold?