updated 12/5/2006 2:02:26 PM ET 2006-12-05T19:02:26

LONDON — Those in England who need an excuse to enjoy themselves this festive season now have a very good one: having fun has become cheaper, while day-to-day living expenses have rocketed.

The "cost of fun" has fallen over the past decade, while the cost of living has soared almost a third, according to new figures from British online bank Egg.

Egg's "retail therapy index" (RTI), which measures a basket of goods and services reflecting the nation's lifestyle, said the price of "fun" items, such as leisure and entertainment goods, has fallen by 0.6 percent in the past 10 years.

At the same time, average U.K. prices have increased by 30.2 percent, based on the Retail Price Index (RPI).

In the past year alone, RPI has lifted 3 percent, driven by rising fuel and energy costs.

But fierce competition among retailers, supermarkets in particular, has meant the price of recreational and leisure items, as measured by Egg's RTI, have risen by just 0.9 percent.

Some items have seen startling price drops.

The cost of audio-visual equipment, such as iPods, televisions and sound systems, for instance, has tumbled 10.9 percent over the past 12 months.

Some prices fall
The price of toys, photographic and sports goods has dropped 4.2 percent as supermarkets take on independent retailers, while electrical appliances now cost 2.2 percent less than they did a year ago, due to online price comparison sites pushing prices lower.

However, some items have seen inflation-busting price rises.

Books and newspapers have increased in price the most — up 6.4 percent since late 2005 year, according to the analysis undertaken by the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

Tobacco is up 5.7 percent, while cigarettes now cost 5.5 percent more.

In the past three months, CDs have seen the most striking change in fortunes.

While the average price of top 10 chart CDs has fallen 23.4 percent year-on-year, the cost rose 14.4 percent in the third quarter of 2006.

Shoppers should hold out for bargains in the final weeks before Christmas, as stores heavily discount goods, said Egg.

Said Egg's chief marketing office, Alison Wright: "'Fun is cheap' is good news for Christmas shoppers, but not everything is as inexpensive as it might be.

"If you're buying presents, it makes sense to wait and see how much will be discounted. We'd urge people to be money-smart in the shops."

(c) Reuters 2006. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments