How much did things cost in 1971?

Technology

Television

Colour television, 1970s
At around £300 colour television sets were expensive in 1971. You would need another £12 for the licence.

Colour television was new in 1968. In 1971 it was still a rarity in British homes. A colour TV was expensive and you had to find extra money for a colour licence. A black and white TV licence cost £6 up to July 1971 and £7 after July. A colour licence was £11 up to July 1971, then £12. [1]

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

1971 priceInflation adjusted
25" HMV Colourmaster colour TV (Currys)£289.00£2,900.00
24" Ferguson black & white TV (Currys)£69.00£700.00
Phillips EL3302 cassette tape recorder c1971
A Phillips EL3302 cassette tape recorder cost £28.35 in 1971

Cassette recorders

Cassette recorders were still cutting edge in 1971. A Phillips EL3302 cost £28.35. In today's money that would be just under £300. Not such a bargain.

Blank cassettes cost from 50p for a C60 (one hour) and up to £1.50 for a C120 (two hours).

Pocket calculators

Pocket calculators first went on sale towards the end of 1971. They were not widely available in the UK until 1972. Desktop electronic calculators cost from £100 to £200.


Motoring

1971 priceInflation adjusted
Gallon of petrol34p£3.40
Ford Cortina car£968£9,600
Mini 850£641£6,700
Mini Clubman Estate£824£8,200
A Mini Clubman Estate cost £824 in 1971
A Mini Clubman Estate cost £824 in 1971

Cars were much cheaper in the early 1970s than today. Allowing for inflation you could get a basic Mini 850 for under £7,000.

Petrol was also cheap compared to today. Imagine paying 75p for a litre of petrol today!

Cigarettes and alcohol

Beer was 16p a pint in 1971
Beer was 16p a pint in 1971
1971 priceInflation adjusted
Bottle of whisky (Haig)£2.53£25.00
Pint of beer (Whitbread Tankard)16p£1.60
20 cigarettes27p£2.72

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.


In the kitchen

Russell Hobbs K2S kettle, 1970s
The Russell Hobbs K2S kettle cost £9.27 in 1971
1971 priceInflation adjusted
Electrolux Midi Automatic 52 refrigerator (Debenhams)£59.90£600.00
Servis Supertwin MK70 washing machine (Currys)£84.95£850.00
Hoover Automatic Deluxe washing machine (Currys)£105.00£1,050.00
Braun KMM1 coffee grinder£13.00£130.00
Melitta Automat filter coffee machine£22.94£229.00
Goblin Teasmade 833£22.11£220.00
Russell Hobbs K2S kettle£9.27£93

Most people used instant coffee. But for the coffee lover there were some impressive gadgets supplied by German makers. Braun made a range of grinders and the Melitta filter machine was the latest thing.

Food prices

1971 priceInflation adjusted
Pint of milk5p50p
Large loaf of bread10p£1.00
½ lb of Country Life butter (Tesco)11½p87p
Nescafé 8oz coffee (Tesco)47½p£4.70
Can of coke (Woolworth)5½p 55p
Golden Wonder crisps 3p30p
One dozen large white eggs (Tesco)25p£2.50
½lb Stork margarine (Sainsbury's)6½p65p
Vesta beef curry with rice (for two) 20p£2

Yogurt was the fad food of the early 70s. Ski was the most popular brand. A 6oz pot of Ski fruit-flavoured yogurt cost just 6p.

Posting a letter

First day cover posted in 1971
A first day cover posted in 1971. You can see the postage was delayed by a strike as stamped in the right -hand bottom corner.

Up to decimalisation in February 1971 it cost 5d to post a letter first class and 4d for second class. (See old money for more information about pounds, shillings and pence).

After decimalisation the rates were 3p for first class and 2½p for second class.

Housing

1971 priceInflation adjusted
Average house price£5,000.00£50,000.00
Council rent per week£5.00£50.00

Newspapers

1971 priceInflation adjusted
The Daily Mirror newspaper2½p - 3p23p-30p
The Daily Express newspaper2½p - 3p23p-30p

Toys and games

1971 priceInflation adjusted
Tiny Tears (Timothy White)£2.80£28
Monopoly game (Tesco)£1.15£11

The craze that swept playgrounds in 1971 was Clackers or Ker-Knockers. A set of Ker-Knockers cost 33p from the Daily Mirror.

Records

Long-playing (LPs) records cost from 77p to £1.25 in 1971. [2]

Clothes

1971 priceInflation adjusted
Mens suit made to measure from Burton£28£280
Mens paisley patterned polyester/cotton shirt (C&A)£1.65£17
Mens raincoat (C&A)£9.95£100
Woman's suit with hot pants and long trousers (Richard Shops)£13.95£140
Dresses (Richard Shops)£7.25£70
Jersey dress (C&A)£3.50£35
Satin hot pants (C&A)£2£20

Read more: 70s fashion

Garden plants

Clemits Nelly Moser
Clematis Nelly Moser was a popular shrub from the 1970s Image by Peter Stevens licensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) (cropped).

These are some popular garden shrubs from the early 1970s:

1971 priceInflation adjusted
Rhododendron Pink Pearl£1.62 to £2.35£16 to £23
Magnolia Stellata£1.75 to £2.90£17.50 to £29.90
Forsythia intermedia 'Spectabilis'40p to 65p£4 to £6
Clematis Nelly Moser65p to 80p£6 to £8
Berberis thunbergii 'Atropurpurea'42p to 75p£4 to £8
Erica darleyensis20p to 30p£6 to £8

Source: 'Shrubs' in Which? magazine September 1971, published by the Consumers' Association

How far did money go in 1971?

Britain's first decimal coins
How far did our small change go in 1971?

1971 was the first year of decimal currency in the UK. Newspapers complained that shops used the changeover to put prices up.

So how far did you money go? This table will give you an idea of the spending power of the new 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.

AmountValue 2021
½p5p
1p10p
2p20p
5p50p
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 1971 as about £10 in today's money and today's pound as 10p in 1971. It gives you an idea 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 £30.98 in 1971.

Read more:

How much did things cost in:

References

[1] Hansard - HC Deb 29 January 1975 vol 885 cc396-406

[2] 'Records for Christmas', in Which? December 1971, published by the Consumers' Association, page 364

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