Business NewsUK Statistics

Consumer trends, UK: Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2017

Spending on goods and services by UK households including household final consumption expenditure



  1. Main points
  2. Things you need to know about this release
  3. Household spending (adjusted for inflation) grew by 0.4% in Quarter 1 2017
  4. What are the main contributors to this growth?
  5. Focus on tobacco (COICOP 02.2)
  6. Household final consumption expenditure revisions
  7. Links to related statistics
  8. Upcoming and recent publications
  9. Quality and methodology

Main points

  • Unless otherwise stated all figures are chained volume measure, seasonally adjusted.
  • In Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2017, household spending (adjusted for inflation) grew by 0.4% compared with Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2016.
  • The main contribution to growth can be seen in “Miscellaneous goods and services”, which has increased by 2.1% compared with Quarter 4 2016.
  • Household spending grew 2.6% in Quarter 1 2017, when compared with Quarter 1 2016.
  • In Quarter 1 2017, current price spending increased by 0.9% compared with Quarter 4 2016.

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 is consistent with Blue Book 2016, published on 30 June 2016. We also published an article on the changes and improvements to household final consumption expenditure (HHFCE) estimates in Blue Book 2016.

HHFCE includes spending on goods and services except for: buying or extending a house, investment in valuables (paintings, antiques etc) 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

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.

When we refer to Quarter 1 – this means January to March
When we refer to Quarter 2 – this means April to June
When we refer to Quarter 3 – this means July to September
When we refer to Quarter 4 – this means October to December

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”.

Please also note that, as part of our usual quality assurance processes for this release, we investigated the path of 07.2.2 Fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment.

Historically, in this area, the current price estimate was seasonal (and therefore seasonally adjusted) while the chained-volume measure (CVM) was not very seasonal.

However, it appears that over recent years the chained-volume series has started to show stronger seasonal patterns, with falls in Quarter 1 becoming regular.

Our time series experts recommended that we change the seasonal adjustment, particularly in recent years.

In the latest quarter this has reduced the fall in the CVM seasonal adjustment (SA) series by around £444 million, compared with not making this change, which also has an impact on the seasonally adjusted implied deflator.

In this publication only the current quarter is open for revision, so only Quarter 1 2017 will be affected. Implementing this change to the whole series will take some time due to the revisions policy.

When we release Quarter 2 2017 we will make changes to the whole span of data (as part of the annual Blue Book cycle), but we have already finalised our dataset for the supply-use balanced years (that is, up to Quarter 4 2015) and cannot now take this change on.

This means that when we publish next quarter, the change in seasonality will only be taken back as far as Quarter 1 2016.

The next time we will be able to make changes before that datapoint will be in the Quarter 1 2018 publication, which is the period coincidental with Blue Book 2018; at this point the change will feed through to all relevant years.


Source: Office for National Statistics licensed under the Open Government Licence v.1.0.

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