Spending reality in family budget

IN UNCERTAIN economic times it appears reality TV is providing Aussies with inspiration and few cheap tricks.

This week the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed shoppers are tightening their budgets with retail spending dropping for a second month in a row.

Independent investment bank Nomura chief economist Stephen Roberts said weakness in department store sales drove much of the overall softness in the retail figures.

“I think it's one of those areas where some people are changing the way in which they shop,” he said.

“On a year-on-year basis, sales in nominal terms for department stores are down 4.9 per cent.”

The flood of lifestyle programs featuring money-saving tips and reality shows like Masterchef and The Block also reflect this change in Australians' spending.

As the building industry on the Gold Coast has been at half its usual capacity according to Housing Industry Association statistics people are staying put and working with what they've got.

According to the Australian Institute of Architects Queensland Manager Ian Agnew this means cooking at home and DIY renovations.

“The kitchen has gone from being a back room to the centre of household activity," Mr Agnew said this week.

“The kitchen has been promoted into an area of prominence by the plethora of highly publicised and successful cooking television programs such as MasterChef."

He said as budgets tighten it's all about entertaining at home.

“A good relationship with the living, dining and outdoor entertaining areas is critical these days."

Another area in the home where householders are looking to save money is running costs.

Director of the Institute of Sustainable Development and Architecture at Bond University Professor George Earl said people are increasingly looking at ways to improve the efficiency of the home.

“Insulation, the orientation of the home ... and a stove and oven with high star ratings will all reduce electricity costs in the home," Prof Earl said.

“The initial premiums to put these things into action will ultimately be outweighed by the long term impact on running coasts.”

Topics:  economy reality tv retail shopping spending

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