Campaign: Public sector - ONS celebrates 50 years of lifestyle information

Campaign: 50th anniversary of results from the Expenditure and Food
Client: Office for National Statistics
PR Team: In-house
Timescale: January 2008
Budget: £5,000

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) monitors household spending and how spending patterns vary depending upon income, household composition and region. Spending is measured by the Expenditure and Food Survey (EFS), a key source of data for the retail price index and the consumer prices index. The 50th anniversary of the EFS was in 2007.


To raise the profile of the ONS as the producer of the EFS. To use its 50th anniversary and the publication of Family Spending, the report in book format, to raise awareness of the importance of the survey.


The EFS was introduced in 1957 to chart the changes in consumption following the end of rationing in 1954.

The ONS team aimed to attract media interest by highlighting the differences in the types of goods households were buying in 1957 and 2007.

In 1957, a third of household expenditure went on food, compared with only 15 per cent today. Cigarettes were a mainstay of the 1950s shopping basket, which also included mutton and rabbit, coal and trolleybus fares. Today housing costs account for 19 per cent of weekly spend compared with nine per cent 50 years ago.

A room was hired at Simpsons in the Strand in central London and two kitchen sets were built. Each kitchen showed the typical lifestyle of a housewife of the time. The 1950s housewife was shown preparing breakfast featuring items such as thickly sliced white bread and a ham, while the 2007 set showed a microwave oven and a woman using a laptop to shop online.


ONS secured coverage in The Guardian, Daily Mail, The Times, Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and financial titles. All mentioned the ONS and flagged up the 50th anniversary of the survey. Nearly all mentioned the EFS by name.


Visits to the 'Family Spending Celebrates 50 years' information on the ONS website increased significantly after the event with 4,503 visits recorded from 28 January to 2 February 2008. Like-for-like sales of Family Spending also rose in the same period compared with the previous year.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in