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Wednesday, 9 February, 2000, 05:50 GMT
UK 'in love with home PC'

The average UK household income is 30,000

Keeping pace with technological change by owning a home computer is seen as a top priority for one in five Britons, according to an annual report into consumer trends.

PC Demand for computers is "very, very strong"
But while the growth in computer sales is predicted to soar in the next five years, the British Lifestyles 2000 survey reveals the public can live without their mobile phones.

Despite the fact that 40% of adults own a mobile, just 12% see it as important to their lifestyle.

Consumer analysts Mintel's survey revealed rising consumer confidence and ambitious spending plans among consumers.

Mintel's head of research Paul Rickard said: "A PC was shown to be fundamental to the lives of many of the people surveyed.

"What came across very clearly was that the computer market was very, very strong and will continue to grow.

Lifestyle Survey
More than 20% of adults see owning or using a computer as important to their lifestyle
Only 12% regard mobile telephones as important to their lifestyle
The average taxable income is now more than 30,000 per household, a 12% increase from 1989
More than 600bn is owed in consumer credit, including mortgages
Short-term spending plans include having a holiday (46%) and buying a new car (38%)
Keeping fit and healthy was an important goal for 51% of all people
"Mobile phones however, while obviously very popular, are not deemed as an essential, but rather as fashion accessory."

The report predicted that the best performing retail sector in the next five years would be household electronic appliances - increasing by 55% in real terms, "fuelled by the growth in computer sales and brown goods".

It also identified that consumer spending has been rising by a greater margin than income since 1996.

Of 1,958 people surveyed about spending priorities, 46% planned a holiday, 38% intended to buy a new car, while a further 38% planned home improvements.

Home ownership is the most important lifestyle priority, with almost two-thirds considering it particularly important.

This is followed by a holiday which Mintel says has "changed from being a luxury to an essential".

Holidays are now seen as essential
Analysts also found British men were becoming more preoccupied with their appearance, spending more on clothes and toiletries.

"Clothing expenditure has shown the greatest growth in the personal goods sector, increasing by 54% in real terms between 1989 and 1999 to reach just under 28bn," said the report.

"Traditionally the growth in the menswear market was slower than the women's as a result of men having less interest in their clothing, however this is no longer the case.

"The male toiletries market has benefited from an increased interest in grooming."

The average man will also have to take care of himself for longer.

Researchers said: "Life expectancy among men is getting nearer to that of women, with the result that (the number of ) men aged over 60 will grow by 5% in the next five years, in contrast with women, where the number of over 60s will grow by just over 1%."

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