New spending index reveals the true cost of purchasing decisions

Article date: 27 October 2006

A new spending index today reveals that Brits take considerablylonger per pound buying non-essential lifestyle items than majorpurchases such as a new car or white goods.

The "HPI Cash Consideration Index" finds that the average consumerwill spend over eight days deciding on a holiday destination,double the time spent choosing a car (4.2 days). A further four outof 10 (40%) British shoppers openly admit to spending more timesearching for a perfect outfit than researching a carpurchase.

The index pinpoints the exact time Brits take to make a range ofpurchases - from a family holiday or a car, to a pair of shoes.Using figures from vehicle check experts HPI, leading retailpsychologist Dr Tim Denison tracked the time spent by over 1000shoppers on a range of purchasing decisions. Weighing this againstthe cost of individual items he has created the HPI CashConsideration Index which outlines British shoppers’ spendingpriorities.

The HPI Cash Consideration Index

ItemAverage time spent on decisionprocessAverage money spent on item(£)Time per £1
Handbag1.643.3253 minutes and 12 seconds per£1
Shoes1.663.3336 minutes and 24 seconds per£1
Computer7.7750.414 minutes and 48 seconds per£1
Newoutfit2.2255.4811 minutes and 54 seconds per£1
Fridge2.3319.410 minutes and 24 seconds per£1
Holiday8.41167.510 minutes and 24 seconds per£1
TV3.6632.48 minutes and  12 seconds per£1
Car4.29,49036 seconds per £1

The index reveals an "inversely proportional purchase pattern",with handbags topping the HPI Cash Consideration Index as theaverage shopper spends 53 minutes and 12 seconds per pound makingtheir decision. This contrasts with a mere 36 seconds per poundinvested in the average car purchase.

Dr Tim Denison has highlighted some key consumer characteristicsthat drive this inversely proportional purchase pattern:

High v low involvement goods – Glossy magazines andlifestyle TV shows fuel the idea that what we wear says a lot aboutus. Clothes buying is therefore an involved decision, over which weregularly spend time. This builds a sense of familiarity with thepurchase process and approximately a third (32%) of respondentssaid they feel confident in their fashion know-how. In comparisononly 13% of consumers feel equipped to make confident decisionswhen buying a car explained by the occasional nature of suchpurchases but also less emotional involvement with the productitself.

Online v Vendor – Consumers spend the greatest amountof time deliberating over purchases such as holidays (8.4 daysaverage) and computers (7.7 days average). It is no coincidencethat these items are highly researchable on the internet and thatpeople are prepared to invest time accordingly in the comfort andconvenience of their homes and workplaces. The web empowersconsumers with both greater opportunities to make accurate productcomparisons and with the ability to search independently.

Alan Bishop of HPI further comments on the research: "Thestudy demonstrates a lack of consumer understanding about the risksof buying without thorough research - failure to invest sufficienttime in researching important purchase decisions, such as buying aused car, has left one in two consumers feeling ripped off orovercharged. A wise buy is not just about finding a good deal, it'sabout taking the time and doing the research, finding the rightproduct to suit our individual needs and lifestyles. Buying onimpulse can end up costing far more in the long run if a productfails to meet consumer's expectations. A little bit of care goes along way.”

HPI has teamed up with retail expert Dr Tim Denison to provideconsumers with some top tips for making an informed purchase choiceand to avoid disappointment.

  1. Save up first so that you truly value what you spend
  2. Research on line, in the shops and amongst your peers
  3. Always ask a friend’s opinion – better still takeone shopping with you. This will help you further distinguish needv want. 
  4. Don’t think just because something has money off it isaffordable
  5. Remember that you will have to live with your high ticketpurchases for years – apply the same rigour in yourjustification as you may in buying your clothes.

HPI provides the most comprehensive check on a vehicle’sstatus and informs consumers if the vehicle they wish to purchasehas been stolen, written off, clocked or has outstanding finance.For more information on the service visit


RAC Press office contact:
Sonia Clarkeor Amanda Glover at Lexis PR on 0207 908 6570 or 0207 9086462
Jon Day at RAC Press Office on 01603 209287

Notes to editors:
HPI commissioned ICM to conductresearch amongst 1033 adults in the UK between 13–15 October2006.

About HPI
HPI is part of Norwich Union, the UK'slargest insurer. Norwich Union is part of Aviva, the world's fifthlargest insurance group.

"HPI" and the HPI logo are registered trademarks of HPILimited.

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