Consumer trends, UK: April to June 2017

Household final consumption expenditure (HHFCE) for the UK, as a measure of economic growth. Includes all spending on goods and services by members of UK households.

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This is an accredited national statistic.

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Release date:
29 September 2017

Next release:
22 December 2017

1. Main points

  • Unless otherwise stated all figures are chained volume measure, seasonally adjusted.
  • In Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2017, household spending (adjusted for inflation) grew by 0.2% compared with Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2017.
  • The main contribution to growth can be seen in “Miscellaneous goods and services”, which has increased by 0.4% compared with Quarter 1 2017.
  • Household spending grew 1.6% in Quarter 2 2017, when compared with Quarter 2 2016.
  • In Quarter 2 2017, current price spending increased by 0.5% compared with Quarter 1 2017.
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2. Things you need to know about this release

The quarterly consumer trends are typically published around 90 days after the end of the quarter.

The data are consistent with Blue Book 2017. The article Changes to national accounts: actual rentals and imputed rentals published on 16 February 2017 gives detail on the major changes affecting household expenditure in Blue Book 2017.

Household final consumption expenditure (HHFCE) includes spending on goods and services except for: buying or extending a house, investment in valuables (for example, paintings and antiques) or purchasing second-hand goods. Explanations for these exceptions and the related concepts are available in Consumer trends guidance and methodology.

Household expenditure is used in the national accounts to measure the contribution of households to economic growth and accounts for about 60% of the expenditure measure of gross domestic product (GDP). There are two measures:

  • current prices - also known as nominal, cash or value series are expressed in terms of the prices of the time period being estimated
  • chained volume measure - this measure removes the effects of inflation

The estimate of HHFCE where net tourism expenditure is included is called the UK national estimate. When net tourism is excluded, this produces the aggregate total UK domestic expenditure. Lower-level analyses in this bulletin are based on the domestic concept. This is discussed in greater detail in Definitions and conventions for UK HHFCE.

Time series data for consumer trends can be accessed through the link at the top of the page in a green box. It is entitled “View all data used in this statistical bulletin”.

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3. Household spending (adjusted for inflation) grew by 0.2% in Quarter 2 2017

In Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2017, the chained volume measure of household spending increased by 0.2%. The current price value of household spending increased by 0.5% compared with Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2017. Figure 1 shows the levels of current price and volume spending from Quarter 1 1997 onwards.

In Quarter 2 2017, the value of household spending in current prices increased by 3.9% on the same quarter in 2016. When comparing the volume measure of household spending in Quarter 2 2017 with the same quarter in 2016, it increased by 1.6%.

Since the economic downturn in 2008 to 2009 (reaching its lowest point in Quarter 2 2009), household final consumption expenditure (HHFCE) has grown by 14.2% in volume terms. In current prices, it has grown by 33.9% (£80,727 million). This shows that whilst household spending has increased during this period, the volume of goods and services purchased by households has increased at a far lesser rate, indicating the effect of price inflation.

During 2016, quarterly growth remained on trend, however the relative slow down in Quarters 1 and 2 2017 is in line with other data sources and other aspects of gross domestic product (GDP).

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4. What are the main contributors to this growth?

As illustrated in Figure 2, the main contributors to the 0.2% growth in consumer spending in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2017 were Miscellaneous goods and services and Recreation and culture, which contributed 0.4% and 0.1% respectively, partially offset by Transport, which contributed negative 0.4%.

The 0.4% contribution from “Miscellaneous goods and services” was due to its growth of 2.8% quarter-on-quarter. Within that category, the growth was driven mainly by “Insurance”, which grew by 8.3% quarter-on-quarter, contributing 0.2% to total domestic expenditure growth.

The second largest contribution from “Recreation and culture” was due to growth of 1.3% quarter-on-quarter, caused by “Other recreational items and equipment, gardens and pets”, which grew by 2.5%, contributing 0.1% to total domestic expenditure growth.

Figure 3 shows the contribution of the components of “Miscellaneous goods and services” to the overall growth in those categories.

At the most detailed level we record, Table 1 shows the areas that displayed the highest growth.

The growth in fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment is in line with a substantial increase in the Retail Sales Index for automotive fuel in Quarter 2 2017.

At this level, Table 2 showed the areas that displayed the largest decline in Quarter 2 2017.

Following the unusually high growth in motor cars in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2017 there is a significant decrease in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2017. This decrease coincides with the introduction of new Vehicle Excise Duty rates in April 2017.

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5. Household final consumption expenditure revisions Quarter 2 2017

In common with all components of UK gross domestic product (GDP), household final consumption expenditure (HHFCE) estimates are subject to the revisions policy of the UK National Accounts. This allows revisions to estimates to be made at particular times of the year.

In Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2017, the revisions to total household final consumption expenditure have been made in line with the revisions policy for Blue Book 2017. Impact of Blue Book 2017 changes on current price and chained volume measure gross domestic product estimates, 1997 to 2012 provides an explanation of the methodological changes introduced in Blue Book 2017.

Revisions between the previous edition of Consumer trends (Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2017) and the latest HHFCE estimates are summarised in Table 3. The revisions reflect methodological changes in the compilation of estimates, updated data from suppliers, as well as adjustments to HHFCE as a result of Supply and Use balancing and the GDP balancing process.

All growth rates in Consumer trends are rounded to one decimal place. This may cause disparity between revisions displayed in the main Consumer trends tables and the revisions table.

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7. Upcoming and recent publications

We recently published an article detailing the change being made to the estimation of actual and imputed rentals (classification of individual consumption by purpose (COICOPs) 04.1 and 04.2) in Blue Book 2017.

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8. Quality and methodology

Consumer trends guidance offers fuller details regarding this publication.

We have published a Quality and methodology information report for this statistical bulletin and details on changes to estimates and methodology in Blue Book 17.

The Consumer trends Quality and Methodology Information report contains important information of:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data
  • uses and users of the data
  • how the output was created
  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data.

Full information on the classification of individual consumption by purpose (COICOP) classification system can be found on the United Nations Statistics website.

Quality of the estimates

Household expenditure volume series are chain linked annually. Estimates in this Consumer trends bulletin are now based on 2015 price structures; that is, the chained volume measure estimate in 2015 equals the current price value of expenditure in 2015.

Growth in each year up to and including 2015 is calculated at average prices of the previous year. Growth from 2015 onwards is calculated at average prices of 2015. Volume series are only additive for the most recent periods; that is, annual data for 2015 onwards and quarterly data for Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2016 onwards.

Very few statistical revisions arise as a result of “errors” in the popular sense of the word. All estimates, by definition, are subject to statistical “error” but in this context the word refers to the uncertainty inherent in any process or calculation that uses sampling, estimation or modelling. Most revisions reflect either the adoption of new statistical techniques or the incorporation of new information that allows the statistical error of previous estimates to be reduced. Only rarely are there avoidable “errors” such as human or system failures and such mistakes are made clear when they do occur.


Household final consumption expenditure estimates published in Consumer trends are a component of the gross domestic product (GDP) expenditure approach. However, the preliminary estimate for GDP is produced based on the GDP output approach. Historic experience shows that the output approach provides the best timely approach to measuring GDP growth. GDP growth according to the expenditure and income approaches is therefore brought into line with that recorded by output.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Gareth Powell
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 455969