Britain has become a nation of cautious consumers who save rather than spend - except when it comes to the National Lottery, according to a study by the market analysts, Mintel.
The amount spent on gambling increased by 41 per cent between 1994 and 1995, making gambling the biggest short-term rise in household spending - largely due to the lottery.
The British Lifestyles survey published yesterday revealed that 91 per cent of the adult population now gamble and Britain's gambling losses stand at pounds 5.3bn in 1995 compared with pounds 3.7bn in 1994. Only 18 per cent of adults interviewed about the lottery agreed that "the odds against winning are too remote to make it worthwhile", while 37 per cent felt "it added excitement to Saturday nights".
"This reflects a need for increased excitement and the hope of winning a fortune as a release from current financial constraints and hardship imposed by a low inflation economy and worry about job losses," said Emma Besbrode, project manager for the survey.
The recession continues to undermine long-term consumer confidence and since 1994 consumers are doing without many non-essential items such as holidays, DIY, and furniture.
Saving has become a top priority. As a proportion of disposable income, savings have increased to 13.3 per cent in 1995 from a low of 9.4 per cent in 1988, and the young in particular are anxious to secure a "safety net" for the future.
Consumers are spending an increased share of their total expenditure between 1985 and 1995 on insurance and pensions, housing, and medical and education fees.
Research into diet and eating habits shows that more than half of all adults (56 per cent) on most occasions eat their meals at the table, compared with 38 per cent who usually eat in front of the television. Comparison with 1994 data suggests a shift towards more formal eating habits.
Growth in consumer spending
Rise in 1994- 95
Gambling (losses) 41.8%
Music and instruments 19.8%
Bicycles, boats and aircraft 16.7%
Educational fees 12.5%
Sickness and accident insurance 11.4%
Domestic and garden help 10.5%
House purchase and alterations 10.3%
Source: MintelReuse content