Spare time spending costs soar
In its first bi-annual review, research by Halifax has revealed that families are now facing the most expensive costs for filling their spare time in over a decade.
When family funds are likely to be more squeezed than ever, the cost of ten out of the eleven leisure activities included in the report have increased more rapidly than the rise in consumer price inflation (29%) over the same period.
Foul play for footy fans
It will be no surprise to the nation's football fans that the estimated cost of top flight football tickets topped Halifax's table, increasing by an average of 184% (from £17.22 to £48.90) since 2002 and up 11% from £44.05 in the last year alone.
To travel or not to travel?
Even when families are agreed on an activity, the cost of actually getting to a destination is no small consideration. Increasing at the second and third fastest rates overall; the cost of car fuel (up 89% to £96.95) and train tickets (up 61% to £23.38) can be a hugely limiting factor in how and where a family can spend their spare time.
Eating out vs eating in
The costs of eating out or staying in with a takeaway have increased at a relatively similar speed, up 42% and 36% respectively, with eating in at £11.12 (compared to £20 to eat out) remaining the cheaper option.
However, taking into consideration the increasing price of buying a pint to accompany a meal out (up 51%) and climbing monthly TV costs (up 39%) since 2002, these factors could also play a part in deciding whether to stay in or go out.
Higher priced hobbies
The price of the alternative ways to spend spare time is increasing at a slightly slower pace. The cost of going to the gym (up 48%) and cinema (up 46%) have risen by almost half in the last decade. The price of these pursuits has risen closely in line with consumer price inflation in the last 12 months, increasing by 3.3% and 3% respectively.
The cost of spending a day at a theme park has also risen by 46% and now stands at almost £40 (£39.64), having cost £27.20 in 2002.
Over the last decade, the least affected price of a leisure activity is gardening, with green fingered families experiencing only a £2.55 (17%) increase, from £15.35 to £17.90, since 2002.
Martin Ellis, economist at Halifax, commented: "There has been a significant rise in the cost of pursing some of the most popular hobbies and days out in the UK over the past decade. Rising transport costs have been a clear driver behind this, although all expenditure categories, apart from gardening, have seen a greater increase than that of inflation.
"Whilst the expected decline in inflation through much of 2012 will help to ease some of the current pressure on household finances, weak earnings growth is likely to constrain the amount families are able to spend in entertaining the family over the coming months."