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Can parents afford a family day out this summer?

17th May 2014 Print

The cost of some of the UK’s favourite family activities have risen by over 50% in the past 10 years, while popular solo and stay at home activities have fallen, according to the latest Spare Time Spending report from Halifax.

Visiting theme parks (up 52%), cinema costs (up 50%) and camping (up 42%) have all risen by significantly more than the Consumer Price Index (31%). This notable rise in affording a day out doesn’t include travel costs, as getting the family to their day out now also costs more as car fuel costs increased 66%, with the average cost of a tank of car fuel rising to £90.65, compared to £54.46 in 2004.

A single adult ticket to a pool would have cost £7.50 in 2004, by 2014 it has increased to £13, and an adult ticket to a theme park would have cost around £29.38 in 2004, rising to £44.56 in 2014.

Anthony Warrington, Director, Personal Current Accounts, Halifax, says: “All parents are familiar with the ‘family multiplier’ – pay for the adults, pay for the kids, get there, eat there and make it through the shop on the way out. Affording ‘a day with the kids’ is becoming an ever growing financial commitment. In times where many families are watching the pennies and the pounds, a family day out is becoming a luxury – I’m sure as the May half term approaches, parents will be looking for ways to have fun on a budget.”

Not going out

There are good financial reasons why staying at home in the holidays has its attractions. Broadband costs have fallen by 50%, which, combined with the large increases in download speeds, are contributing to the rise of online gaming and film and TV downloading. Over the same time period the cost of buying online books has dropped by 22%, and physical books by 6%. The costs of TV including pay television have increased but only in line with CPI.

Anthony Warrington adds: “While as soon as you step outside the costs start to add up, there is some good news. Costs have fallen dramatically for stay at home fun in the last 10 years, which is good news for people who have had to tighten their belts. It proves you can still enjoy yourself, even if you base the family day together from home.”

Football tickets are the single biggest cost

Football remains the highest cost in the report, with an average monthly spend, based on tickets for two Premier League matches, of £88 compared to £35.55 in 2004. This has resulted in a 135% increase in a decade

Getting fit

There is also good news for those who like to exercise. In the last year, the cost of going to the gym has dropped by 27%, and is roughly the same as a decade ago, while the cost of cycling membership has fallen 20% in the past ten years.


Even activities that were once considered an opportunity to get back to basics have increased. People looking to pitch a tent on a camping site can expect a daily spend of £35.80, up from £25.15 in 2014 and not counting average site fee of £20 per pitch per night.