How Many Nations? A study of regional differences in spending

This is a further paper published by J. Walter Thompson in the series based on the Family Expenditure Survey. Other sources have been Odhams: Household Expenditure on Branded Foods and the National Food Survey.


Nowadays party politicians are competing with plans for regional development and sociologists are talking about “the two nations.” But hard facts are not so often quoted. Just how different are the regions? In what respects are they different? Why? These are not merely academic questions to the manufacturer of consumer goods. There are often quite large regional variations in his sales. What is usually not so clear is why this should be or what to do about it.

There are, of course, many obvious differences between the main regions of Great Britain. The problem is that most of them do not have any direct bearing on any one manufacturer's sales. There are variations in geography, the proportions living in urban and rural areas, climate, types of industry, types of occupation, level of employment, housing, types of shop, education, social class, entertainments and so on. It would hardly be possible to sort out accurately which of these socio-geographical factors are the most important to a product's sales. In any case, most of them change very slowly indeed, if at all; if they are in fact responsible for variations in a product's sales, there is not much that the manufacturer can do about it.