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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 April, 2004, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
Britons 'have enough spare time'
Mintel graphic showing watch with Union Jack
Mintel said Britons were 'quite content' with their lifestyle
The vast majority of Britons feel they have enough spare time and time to relax, according to a new survey.

Market analyst group Mintel found 79% of 2,002 adults surveyed in January felt they had enough time, while just 5% felt they had no free time at all.

Its British Lifestyles 2004 survey also found Britons were prepared to spend more to free up their time.

It found the convenience foods sector grew 70% from 1993 to 2003 and spending on health and fitness clubs 179%.

Peter Ayton, chief statistician at Mintel, said more money was being spent on time-saving products and services.

He said: "We no longer spend time peeling vegetables and preparing dishes, we simply buy convenience foods or go out for fast food.

"We use the internet to save time on research and we don't need to go to the bank or supermarket as everything can be done from our home computer."

Mintel broke down the respondents into five groups.

Pie graph showing how pushed for time Britons feel

Three out of 10 were described as "Time Rich", with time on their hands during the week and weekends.

Most in this group either did not work or were retired, with the highest percentage in Scotland and north-west England.

People defined as "Time Short", who feel starved of free time, represented the smallest group at just 8%.

Those with the least time to spare were aged 25 to 44 and from London and south-east England.

The largest group, representing 33%, were those "Busy Enough" who the report believed achieved their own work-life balance.

They have children and jobs and they have so much on they have to plan
Gina Pickersgill
Lifestyle coach
But Gina Pickersgill, a lifestyle coach based in London, said around 99% of people she had spoken to said they did not have enough time to relax.

She said most of her clients were working mothers who had to consciously manage their time.

"They're busy, busy doing stuff, but not for themselves. They have children and jobs and they have so much on they have to plan."

She added that free time increased with age.

"Women in their 60s have had the house, had the husband and can walk the dog or do charity work - it definitely depends on age."

Some 45% of those surveyed by Mintel said they would like to spend more time with their family, 38% said they would like more time to relax at home and 37% more time to take holidays.

Expenditure on overseas holidays more than doubled between 1993 and 2003, rising from £9bn to £20bn.

Just over half of British adults now have access to the internet at home and Mintel said a third of holiday-makers booked their breaks over the web last year.

Working hours

The survey said there were now over 17 million bank accounts accessible online, up from 0.38 million in 1998, while phone banking had increased from 9.46 million to 32.98 million.

Some 45% of women said domestic or garden help would make their lives easier and 42% one-stop shopping while 34% of men said shorter hours would have the most positive impact on their lifestyle.

Mr Ayton concluded: "We are a nation quite content with our lot and, if anything, with more than enough time on our hands.

"We do not live in a cash rich, time poor society after all, but in one that is both cash rich and time rich."

Your comments

Perhaps all these people with some spare time would like to help with my jungle of a garden
SP, Plymouth, UK
No I do not have any spare time at all, No spare cash for 'time-saving services' and I do not buy prepared foods as my very partially-sighted husband has to have a sugar-free diet. Perhaps all these people with some spare time would like to help with my jungle of a garden that I have to struggle alone with! Not to mention the hoovering!
SP, Plymouth, UK

As a small business owner I currently enjoy one day off a week and work up to 14 hours a day on the other 6. This is a massive increase over 10 years ago and a lot of it is down the additional red tape that has been placed on businesses by the current government.
Patrick Weightman, Leicester

It is difficult to recognise in this description the country that I see. I and the working adults I mix with are all "time short". Their work goes on holiday with them, for example. And their children seem to work very hard, too. Mothers seem to find it hard to find any time for themselves, though superficially they appear to have time.
Stephen Leach, North Somerset, UK

I believe this survey reflects the "all or nothing" approach to work that has become more and more prevalent in recent years. Many employers, including mine expect their staff to work 9 or 10 hours a day, and then spend another 2 or 3 hours a day travelling to and from work at any of their sites in and around London. There is no part-time option! I am therefore amongst the 24% who are described as "Time Short" or "Leisure Constrained". I only have time to write this today because I am using up last year's holidays! The 30% who are described as "Time Rich" are mostly unemployed or retired.
Nick Hobbs, Uxbridge, Middlesex

We've recently downshifted out of the rat race having taken early retirement. We are busier than ever, but the time is taken up with projects and work that really gives a sense of satisfaction. And yes, we are still using time saving devices!
Sandy and Martyn, Wiltshire, UK

I certainly seem to spend my time living to work
DCA, Kent
I have just returned to this country having lived in Spain for a few years. It is my impression that the people of Britain have very little spare time, and the whole country is dominated by a culture in which "productivity" is valued above all else. I certainly seem to spend my time living to work, whereas in Spain I was able to "work to live"
DCA, Kent

This survey is rubbish. I am spending far more time at work now, getting paid less and have less time for leisure. The reason I have no savings is because this government takes more of my money in taxes.
Steve, Solihull, West Midlands

We're all hoping to reach that work-life balance, but at times it just sounds like one of those trendy ideals that " Lifestyle groups" and magazines harp on about in order to fill pages.
Brenda Joseph, Harrow, Middlesex

This just serves to show how myopic most Brits are. Most would benefit from a working trip to Europe or Scandinavia, they would see what "time rich" truly means! I am a professional engineer and up until recently worked from 08:15 to 18:00 every day excluding travel. Most of my colleagues in Norway work a typical day of 09:00 to 16:00 with an hour and a half for lunch! Maybe this is just a good lesson in people adapting to their lot - as poor as it may be.
Neil , Aberdeen, UK

I'd like to know where all those people found all their spare time. My fiancé and I both hold regular jobs, we don't have children, and we barely have time to enjoy any sport or leisure activities during the week without having to compromise on sleep, 'normal' meal times or general relaxing. We rarely get to visit family. Out entire social life is squeezed into busy weekends, and we've just about recovered in time for Mondays. It wouldn't be fair to even think about children at this stage of our lives!
Steve, Maidstone, Kent

I feel that we keep working harder and for longer hours so that we can afford to buy time saving devices so that we don't have to work so hard.
Emily, Surbiton, Surrey

Scots suffer 'leisure burn-out'
27 Jun 03  |  Scotland

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