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Did you know that each person in the UK spent on average around £2 a week buying plants and flowers last year – 15 per cent more than at the turn of the century. That’s the findings of analysis from the Resolution Foundation’s Intergenerational audit for the UK which brings together data to show how spending power, and spending habits, have changed for different age groups over the 21st century.

Findings indicate that the typical pensioner spent around £390 per week on items other than housing last year, a real-terms increase of £105 a week since 2002. On the flipside, the typical person aged under 30 spent £380 per week on non-housing items – that’s £28 a week less than at the turn of the century. Beyond people’s overall spending power, the analysis also shines further light on how living standards are changing. Within their lower spending envelope, under 30s are still putting £8 more per week towards essentials like food and fuel than in 2002. But their spending on fun stuff like recreation (which includes streamed music and pets), cultural activities (like leisure classes and going to the cinema), restaurants, takeaways and hotels has fallen by £20 since the turn of the century. Millennials’ consumption crunch has moved their spending away from experiences, and towards necessities. This is a far cry from how young people today are normally portrayed.

Instead, the new culture vultures are those aged 65 and over, who are now spending an extra £42 a week on these fun goods and activities. Young people today are spending less in cash terms on alcohol and tobacco, down £4 to £10 a week, while pensioner spending is up £2 to £11 a week. The other spending shift that has taken place since the turn of the century has been on transport – down £10 a week for young people, but up for older age groups.

Finally, rapid wealth increases mean that older households can increasingly draw on their assets to support their day-to-day spending, especially since new freedoms introduced in 2015 have opened up access to pension pots.

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