More pay, less play for British

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The Independent Online
WE ARE more sophisticated, earn nearly four times as much, and prefer gardening to dancing or DIY, according to a report on the way our lives have changed over the past 20 years.

The research is published today by the Institute of Management. In 1979, when Margaret Thatcher came to power, the average employee earned pounds 5,000 a year, drove a Ford Cortina and lived in a house that cost pounds 19,800. A prime pastime was television: the Blankety Blank quiz show was a favourite. Ten years later, as Mrs Thatcher's popularity waned, average pay was pounds 11,700 and the average house cost pounds 61,500. One in five had a home computer, and the Ford Fiesta was car of choice. Coronation Street was the favourite television programme and DIY and drinking in pubs and bars the most popular pursuits.

More than a quarter of people now have a home computer, half own CD players and the most popular car is Ford's Focus. Average income is pounds 19,000 and gardening is the favourite home hobby.

Experts believe the change in the most popular white wine from Hirondelle's blended French in 1979, through Piat D'Or, a medium or dry French in 1989, to south-east Austra-lia's Jacob's Creek wines gives an insight into the way tastes have developed. "The increasing sophistication of the British is reflected in their taste in wine," said Tim Putnam, director of research for art design and media at the University of Portsmouth. "A lifestyle mentality of choice is being developed through magazines and television programmes."

Increases in disposable income have enabled people to buy more labour- saving devices, have their own transport and take foreign holidays. In 1979 three-quarters of homes had a washing-machine or telephone, compared with more than 90 per cent in 1999. In 1979, 60 per cent of households ran a car, against 70 per cent today.

"This shows the rhetoric of change is more than matched by reality. Our experiences and expectations of life both inside and outside work have been transformed," said Mark Hastings, head of policy at the Institute of Management.

Some things have not changed: Spain remains Britain's most popular holiday destination. Despite new technologies, people have yet to achieve the much-predicted increase in leisure time. In the 1970s the average working week was 40 hours. In 1999 this has climbed to 44 hours, with managers reporting that a 50-hour working week was normal.

r Shoppers with loyalty cards spend more than twice as much money and nearly three times as long in stores as people without them, according to research published by the Economic and Social Research Council. It showed that people were attracted to the cards by the offer of premium points on certain goods, prizes and discounts.

The researchers found that although shop managers saw such schemes as a way of improving performance, they agreed they were little more than bribes to try to get a meaningful relationship with the customer. "Despite the hype around loyalty cards, it is not clear from our research whether shops are building a relationship with their customers," said Susan Hart, professor in marketing at the University of Strathclyde.

Leading article,

Review, page 3