Who were the big winners of 2013?

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It has been an odd year for many of us. We've heard the news, so we know that the economy has apparently turned a corner. House prices are up, sales are increasing, employment is growing, and the country is booming. The winners of 2013 are all around us... it just doesn't quite feel that way.

So who are really the winners of 2013?

All of us.... apparently

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer - or so they tell us. In his Autumn Statement George Osborne made a number of announcements about how the economy was on the up. The growth rate is than expected, and should come in at 1.4% this year. The headline unemployment rate has fallen faster than expected, the deficit will be smaller this year, and the national debt will be slightly smaller than forecast.

So why doesn't it feel better? The fact that wages are not growing as fast as inflation makes us all a little worse off with every passing month - so it's hard to get excited about a national recovery when we're suffering a personal decline.

Trapped house-sellers

The last few years have seen hundreds of thousands of people trapped, and unable to sell their home. However, this year not only have we seen an improvement in asking prices, but we have also seen houses selling faster. The average property now sells in 58 days - 11 days fewer than this time last year. And there have been more sales across Britain than at any other time during the past five and a half years.

First-time buyers

Help-to-Buy was announced in March, enabling first-time buyers to borrow up to 20% of the value of a new build home towards a deposit, providing they can contribute 5% themselves. The loans are interest free for five years and are repayable on house sale. The scheme was announced alongside a Mortgage Guarantee for lenders, intended to help all families who are struggling with deposits. As a result there has been a massive up-swing in the number of first time buyers - and mortgage lending to this group was at a six-year-high by the middle of December

Discount brands

While the high street faded around them and the major supermarkets jostled for market-share, we saw the rise and rise of the discount brands. Big winners included Aldi which won a number of accolades this year, including being named the Which? best supermarket for the second year running. It also saw 16% sales increase, and almost a fifth of shoppers were middle class or richer.

Poundland was also reaping the rewards of appealing to cash-strapped shoppers. It opened its 1,000th UK store this October - and its figures mirrored those of Aldi - with sales rising 16% this year and one in five shoppers were middle class or richer.

Celebrities

But while we may not feel much richer, there were some more obvious winners rolling in cash. Microsoft founder Bill Gates retook the title of richest man in the world - after losing out to Mexican telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim last year. His fortune now stands at $72.9 billion - up 16.2% in a year. Meanwhile Madonna took the title of highest-earning celebrity - making $125 million from an enormously successful tour (among other things).

And Andy Murray was estimated to have taken his earning potential from £8 million a year to £15 million a year by winning Wimbledon in 2013.