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Family car journeys, trips to the seaside, '99' ice creams - how the cost of the great British summer has increased in 50 years

Press release   •   Jul 30, 2013 11:27 BST

The Great British summer costs the average family £1,133.47* - as they spend almost three times more on ‘summer stuff’ than the average family did in 1963, new research from Nectar reveals.

No longer is it simply about playing hopscotch or a game of rounders… with the rise of the “experience economy” today’s families are bombarded with a wealth of fun and exciting things to keep them occupied from the traditional favourites to day visitor attractions, road trips and family treats, yet even when inflation is factored in, the equivalent family summer spend 50 years ago was just £357.74 in today’s money.

And with this increasing choice has come the rise in family summer spending due to pressure to visit attractions, attend organised play events, have the latest toys or games to keep the kids entertained, and ‘keep up with The Joneses’ in a modern Facebook show and tell, according to loyalty card Nectar.

The research was commissioned to mark the Nectar Double Value Exchange, which runs for the first three weeks of the school holidays until August 13** allowing cardholders to beat the increasing cost of summer by redeeming Nectar points for double their usual value with top restaurant and entertainment partners.

Back in the 1960s, according to Nectar’s research, traditional summers would be likely to include simple games of British Bulldog, hopscotch, jigsaws and Action Man – Speedos for men and one-piece swimming costumes for women were popular, while summer treats included Zoom lollies, Strawberry Mivvis and ginger beer.

In 2013, choice is much more apparent as summer is likely to consist of over 24 visits to ‘paid-for’ venues or events, and 45% of Brits are likely to ‘update’ their wardrobe specifically for the summer season.  As the cost of summer increases 59% of families say that they try to prepare by saving on average £349.90 (per family) for the summer season.

The qualitative and research-based paper - Nectar Summer Sum: The Cost of 50 British Summers* - compares the nation’s summer spending and social activities over the last five decades.  The report identifies where these costs come from to better understand how it has impacted on summer leisure and social activities.

Key take outs from the report include:

- Britain has evolved into an experience economy, where the accumulation of a portfolio of experiences matters most, and social media is a modern ‘show and tell’

- In-home summer socialising has almost trebled since the 1960s, driven by the craze for  the BBQ and its ability to act as a social catalyst

- Unsupervised playtime has been replaced by more ‘organised’ activities - in the 1950s children would play out unsupervised on average 55 times, compared to just 24 today

- Visits to ‘paid-for’ cultural and leisure events and venues such as museums, cinemas and theme parks have doubled from 12.4 days per family over the summer in the 1960s to 24.1 days per family today

While the transformation in terms of what we do over summer in the last fifty years can be attributed to a number of social and economic factors, the report has identified key cultural shifts in the way Brits play, socialise and ultimately what they spend summer savings on.

For each decade, the report has produced a list of ‘quintessential’ items across key categories that define consumer and social habits of the time, to provide a typical summer ‘shopping basket’ and enable a Decade v Decade spending comparison:




Ice Cream




Average spend:


·  British Bulldog

·  Hopscotch

·  Building Dens

·  Toy Cars

·  Fancy dress

·  Jigsaw

·  Action Man

·  Jacks

·  Heart

·  Mivvi

·  Zoom

·  Babycham

·  Cream Soda

·  Guinness

·  Ginger Beer

·  Bitter

·  Tea

·  Tartan suits

·  Drainpipes

·  Winklepickers

·  Sandals


Average spend:


·  Picnics

·  Camping

·  Bike Rides

·  Working/Helping

·  Books

·  Sindy dolls

·  Action Man

·  Arts & Crafts

·  Cider & lemonade lollies

·  Funny Face

·  Rocket

·  Screwball

·  Sparkle

·  Lager

·  Cherryade

·  Dandelion & Burdock

·  Scholl sandals

·  Denim mini skirt

·  Cut offs

·  Desert boots

·  Flares

·  Loons


Average spend:


·  Roller Skates

·  Hide & Seek

·  Swings

·  Star Wars Figures

·  Rubik’s Cube

·  Barbie dolls

·  Funny Feet

·  Cider & lemonade lollies

·  Popeye

·  Lager

·  Pepsi

·  Irn Bru

·  Milk

·  Fanta

·  Tank Tops

·  Bright colours

·  Ra Ra Skirts

·  Pumas

·  Leather platforms

·  DMs

·  Denim Jacket


Average spend:


·  Family Days Out

·  Arts & Crafts

·  Barbie dolls

·  My Little Pony

·  Skateboard

·  Lemon Top

·  Zzapp

·  Calippo

·  Cider

·  Guinness

·  Whisky

·  Coffee

·  Ray Ban sunglasses

·  adidas

·  Shell Suit

·  Lacoste

·  Kickers

·  Halter Neck

·  Flip Flops

·  Chinos


Average spend:


·  Computer Games

·  Reading

·  Racquet sports

·  Super Soakers

·  Paddling pools

·  Garden play equipment

·  Games consoles

·  Lego

·  Magnum

·  Nobbly Bobbly

·  Calippo

·  Twister

·  Pimms

·  Rum & mixer

·  Cider

·  Fanta

·  Water

·  Aviators

·  Vests

·  Sandals

·  Maxi dress

·  Leggings

·  Floral crop tops

·  Chinos

·  Converse

·  Aztec patterns

·  Denim shorts

·  Ray Bans

·  Wedges

·  Pedal pushers

·  Board Shorts

James Frost, Marketing Director at Nectar, said: “While traditional pastimes are still a great way to have fun over the summer, we’re now all looking to cram in as many experiences and activities as we can to make the most of our precious summertime and, as a result, the family budget inevitably feels the strain.

“That’s why we’ve introduced the first nationwide Nectar Double Value Exchange - to give families the chance to make the most of their Nectar points during the summer months and participate in things that the whole family can enjoy together.”

Top tips to saving money over the summer holidays:

  • Take advantage of the hundreds of free museums, attractions, parks and venues throughout the country
  • Re-introduce games and activities from years gone by such as hopscotch, British Bulldog and rounders
  • Get involved in the Nectar Double Value Exchange by going to Sainsbury’s**** between July 24 - August 13 to pick up a double value voucher for the reward of your choice from a day out at Merlin Entertainment attractions to swimming at your local swimming pool or tucking into a tasty treat at Café Rouge or Strada
  • Make the most of existing toys and games which may be stored away in the shed or the loft – swingball is always a family favourite
  • Get a copy of the Sainsbury’s Bumper Book of Summer for just £5 which contains hundreds of free and cheap summer holiday ideas to keep the family entertained

For more information about the Nectar Summer Sum: The Cost of 50 British Summersreport and the Nectar Double Value Exchange, visit


*Research carried out by The Future Foundation for Nectar in June 2013

**Minimum 1,000 Nectar points for participation. Voucher valid until 30 September 2013

***Adjusted to include 2000-2013 as a single decade for simple comparison purposes

****Excludes Sainsbury's convenience stores, petrol stations and online 

For further information, contact:

Stu Henshall or Ashlee Lennon at Clarion Communications

020 7343 3225 / 3109, /

Notes to Editors:

About the Nectar Double Value Exchange

Customers will be able to enjoy double value at

- Strada   - Bella Italia

- Café Rouge   - Vue cinemas

- Alton Towers    - Chessington World of Adventures

- Legoland   - Madame Tussauds 

- Thorpe Park   - Warwick Castle

- Sealife   - The Dungeons

- Nectar Swim pools nationwide

Nectar, the United Kingdom’s leading coalition loyalty programme, is owned by Aimia, a global leader in loyalty management.

In 2012, Nectar celebrated 10 years of rewarding British shoppers and has given back £2billion of rewards to collectors, including money off shopping, travel, days out and cinema tickets.

19 million collectors earn Nectar points when shopping for groceries, doing DIY, booking a holiday, paying household bills, buying petrol and even getting their car serviced. Collectors also earn Nectar points every time they shop online via at over 500 leading online retailers.

Nectar was awarded the “Best card-based loyalty programme” at the 2012 and 2013 Loyalty Awards for Europe and the Middle East.

For more information about Nectar, please visit: