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Prices in 1972

Prices in 1972

Published on 13 June 2022 02:52 PM

Prices in 1972

Age UK North Tyneside turns 50 this year. However, as inflation levels hit record highs, we realise not everyone is in the mood to celebrate. We thought we’d take a look at how prices have changed in the last 50 years, and point you in the right direction if you need some extra help.

In 1972 some of the first fruits of the technological revolution went on sale to British consumers. You needed big pockets for the first pocket calculators. They were hardly pocket-sized and neither were the prices.

One year after decimalisation, prices were going up. But Britain had yet to experience the levels of inflation that followed the 1973 oil crisis.

Technology was expensive, but motoring and beer were cheap compared to today.

Pocket calculators

The first electronic calculators were available to buy in the UK in 1972. They were eye-wateringly expensive with prices as high as £95. When adjusted for inflation, that’s £970!

Television

Colour TV was becoming more popular in 1972, however black and white TVs were still more common in UK homes.

There were 1.6 million colour licences issued in 1972. However, more people still watched in black and white. There were 15 million monochrome licences issued.

A black and white TV licence cost £7 in 1972 and a colour licence was £12

The purchase of the TV set dwarfed the cost of the licence:

  1972 price Inflation adjusted
22" Pye colour TV (Currys) £239.00 £2,400
24" Ferguson black & white TV (Currys) £67.00 £630.00

Clocks and watches

The early years of the 1970s were the last years when mechanical watches were the first choice of most people.

The first digital watch, the Pulsar Hamilton, went on sale in the USA in 1972. It was out of reach for most buyers in the UK

Discerning buyers opted for automatic (self-winding) mechanical watches. Many of these were Swiss-made.

  1972 price Inflation adjusted
Omega (Swiss) £32.50 £330
Seiko (Japan) £24.95 £250
Sekonda (USSR) £11.95 £120
Timex (USA) £6.55 £67

1972 was also just before the digital alarm clock revolution. Mechanical and mains-powered electric clocks were the choice most people had to wake them up in the morning. Travel alarm clocks were a popular gift.

Motoring

Motoring was cheaper in the early 70s. Both cars and petrol were cheap compared to what we have to pay today. Cars were more basic, but they still got you from A to B.

Allowing for inflation you could get a basic Mini 850 for under £7,000 and a Fiat 500 was just £6,300.

Petrol was just 78p a litre in 2021 money. Happy days as Patrick would say!

  1972 price Inflation adjusted
Gallon of petrol 35p £3.60
Ford Cortina car £1,022.00 £10,000
Mini 850 £695 £7,100
Fiat 500 £650 £6,600

Cigarettes and alcohol

Beer was 16p a pint in 1971. Courage Tavern cost between 14p and 18p for a pint in 1972.

Whisky was more expensive in the 1970s than today (allowing for inflation). A standard bottle of whisky from a well-known brand, such as Bells or Johnnie Walker, costs around £15 from a supermarket today.

Beer and cigarettes were much cheaper, as you can see from the table above. Keg bitter was Britain's favourite drink in 1972. Watneys asked us to join the 'Red Revolution'.

  1972 price Inflation adjusted
Bottle of whisky (Haig) £2.52 £26
Bottle of sherry (Harvey's Bristol Cream) £1.25 £13
Pint of beer (Courage Tavern) 14-18p £1.40-£1.80
20 cigarettes 26½p £2.70

In the kitchen

  1972 price Inflation adjusted
Servis Supertwin washing machine (Currys) £86.95 £890
Hoover Automatic Deluxe washing machine (Currys) £105 £1,100
Russell Hobbs K2 kettle (Timothy Whites) £7.95 £81
Kenwood Chef mixer (Timothy Whites) £31.25 £320

Food prices

In 1972 we ate about 17lb of fish per year. Today's figure is very similar. In 1972 the three most popular fish were cod, haddock and herring. Cod cost 33p per pound, haddock 35p and herring 15p. Kippers were 21p per pound.

  1972 price Inflation adjusted
Pint of milk 5p 51p
White, 1¾lb wrapped and sliced loaf 10p £1
½lb St Ivel Golden Meadow butter (Tesco) 11½p £1.20
Maxwell House 4oz coffee (Tesco) 25p £2.50
Can of Coke (Co-op) 6½p 66p
Golden Wonder crisps 3p 31p
One dozen large white eggs 22p £2.20
1lb Stork margarine 11½p £1.20

Posting a letter

Postal rates in 1972 were 3p for first class and 2½p for second class letters.

Housing

  1972 price Inflation adjusted
Average house price £7,000.00 £71,000

Newspapers

  1971 price Inflation adjusted
The Daily Mirror newspaper 3p 31p
The Daily Express newspaper 3p 31p

Records

Long-playing (LPs) records cost from 77p to £2.25 in 1972.

Clothes

  1972 price Inflation adjusted
Tights (Woolworth's) 15-29p £1.50-£3
Men's socks (Woolworth's) 25p £2.50
Children's socks (Woolworth's) 15-25p £1.50-£2.50
Drip-dry nylon shirts (Woolworth's) £1.25 £13
Men's suit made to measure from Burton £19.50 £200
Men's showerproof topcoat (Burton) £17.50 £180
Men's paisley-patterned polyester/cotton shirt (C&A) £1.65 £17
Women's trouser suit with spotted cravat (C&A) £8.95 £91
Dresses (Richard Shops) £5.45 £56

Children's bikes

  1972 price Inflation adjusted
Raleigh Chopper £35.60 £360
Dawes Red Feather RF1 £36.99 £380
Halfords Olympic £27.50 £280
Dawes Kingpin 500B £35.99 £370
Moulton Midi £27.50 £280
Raleigh R16 £35.35 £360

Source: 'Bicycles for older children', published in 'Which?' February 1972 by the Consumers' Association, pages 38-9.

How far did money go in 1972?

This table will give you an idea of the spending power of the original decimal coins against 2021 money.

Under the decimal system there were coins for ½p, 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 50p and notes for £1, £5, £10, £20.

Amount Value 2021
½p 5p
1p 10p
2p 20p
5p 50p
10p £1
50p £5
£1 £10
£5 £50
£10 £100
£20 £200

Figures derived from The Bank of England's Three Centuries Macroeconomic Dataset Version 2.3 - 30 June 2016 adjusted for current inflation and rounded.

You can think of £1 in 1972 as about £10 in today's money and today's pound as 10p in 1972. It gives you an idea of why the coins were bigger back then.

How much did people earn?

The average weekly wage for full-time male manual workers over twenty-one was £36.60 in 1972. For women workers over eighteen, it was £20.50. [Source: Hansard HC Deb 10 February 1983 vol 36 cc422-3W]

Holidays abroad

More people were getting on a plane and flying off to the sun in the early 1970s. Spain was the top tourist destination for British holidaymakers in 1972. A package holiday to Spain cost from £40 to £150 in 1972.

Where to get help

We know that people’s income has not increased at the same rate as inflation. That’s why we want to do everything we can to make sure you’re getting the help you’re entitled to. To find out about the financial support available, call our Information & Advice team on 0191 280 8484 or email enquiries@ageuknorthtyneside.org.uk.