Fun and games costing more as leisure costs rise

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Price of hobbies up by a third, says Jane Bradley

The cost of leisure activities has spiralled over the past year – putting financial pressure on the free time of cash-strapped families.

An investigation into the price of a range of leisure pursuits from buying a takeaway meal to gardening found the money needed to enjoy hobbies and interests has jumped by almost a third in the past decade, acc­ording to the Spare Time Spending report from Halifax.

Football fans have witnessed a 16 per cent rise in the cost of 
att­ending Premier League matches over the previous 12 months, and reaching a level three times higher than in 2003, while the cost of broadband – a necessity for activities such as online gaming – has shot up by 7 per cent since March last year.

The cost of train tickets has also jumped by well above 
inflation, rising by an average of 8 per cent, while a tank of fuel now costs an average of £97.93 – just 1 per cent higher than last year, but a 77 per cent increase on a decade earlier.

More than a third of the categ­ories of leisure activities surveyed shot up by more than inflation over the past 12 months.

The amount charged for an average top flight football ticket has rocketed by more than eight times the cost of inflation – costing £85.85 for a typical two matches per month, while even the price of going camping rose by more than the Consumer Price Index level of 2.2 per cent – costing holidaymakers 3 per cent more than the same time last year.

Anthony Warrington, director of current accounts at Halifax, said: “Many families will be all too aware of the increasing costs of the activities they do to fill their spare time. The fact that these costs are continuing to rise, and some at a faster rate than inflation, will put even more pressure on households as they try to plan ahead for the May Bank Holidays and half term.”

However, booklovers found that indulging in their favourite pursuit saved them money compared to the same time last year, with the price of an eBook for devices such as the Kindle dropping by 18 per cent. The cost of an ordinary book also slumped – by 2 per cent.

Warrington added: “Even for those who are looking to do something for ‘free’, it will hard not to be impacted by rising fuel costs and, as average pay has
declined in real terms in recent years, it is likely that people will be unable to pursue some spare time activities simply because of the cost.”