Household spending fell during 2009 for the first time in a decade, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.
The average UK household cut its weekly outlay from £471 in 2008 to £455 last year.
It is the first time that spending has fallen since the ONS changed the way it records household expenditure in 2001-02.
The highest expense to households last year was transport, with families having to shell out an average of £58.40 a week. This included £19.50 on purchase of vehicles, £29.30 on the operation of personal transport (such as petrol, diesel, repairs and servicing) and £9.60 on transport services such as rail, tube and bus fares.
The other two largest categories for spending were recreation and culture, which cost households an average of £57.90 per week, and housing (excluding mortgages), fuel and power, which accounted for an average of 57.30 per week. The gap between them narrowed markedly from 2008, when they cost £60.10 and £53 per week respectively.
The fall in outgoings reflects the harsh conditions suffered by households in 2009. The UK was in the midst of a recession until the latter part of the year, while many households would have been hit by at least one redundancy.
It meant that spending on clothes and shoes, and household goods and services fell away to £20.90 and £27.90 per week respectively. There were widespread differences in outgoings across different age ranges and regions.
London, the East, the South East, Northern Ireland and the South West all recorded higher than average weekly outgoings, while the households that spent the most (£558.80) were run by people aged between 30 and 49.
Households run by people aged 75 or over had the lowest outgoings, at £236.40 per week. Away from family expenditure the survey also threw up some other interesting statistics.
Surprisingly, a quarter of all homes in the UK do not have a computer, while almost half of households in Wales do not have a mobile phone.
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