Essential reading for retailers and suppliers in the home improvement market

Brits set to spend £29.6billion on home improvements by year-end

Published: 30 November 2018 - Fiona Garcia
Home improvement retailers could be set to cash in, as UK consumers are set to fork out more on home improvements than presents this year
Home improvement retailers could be set to cash in, as UK consumers are set to fork out more on home improvements than presents this year

Whilst UK consumers are expected to spend £4.5billion shopping by the first Saturday of December, the figure is dwarfed by the huge amount set to be splashed out on home improvements rather than presents under the tree.

New research from AA Financial Services reportedly dispels the myth that Brits wait until the summer months to improve their homes, as a festive DIY stampede is on the cards with people getting their homes ready for family visits and entertaining over the festive season.

Overall, almost half of homeowners are planning a home improvement project before Christmas, and will draw an average of £2,339.46 from their savings to fund it. The report reveals that most people are raiding their nest eggs rather than borrowing money to fund their festive projects.

Looking at the most popular festive home improvements, AA Financial Services revealed that paint brushes and dust sheets will be out in force in the coming weeks, 41% of homeowners are planning some last-minute decorating before they put their Christmas tree up. For 12% of respondents, getting the kitchen upgraded was the top priority, even if it meant adding to the domestic chaos during the Christmas countdown.

Despite the chill, even outdoor projects are on the agenda, with 18% of respondents stating that they will be commissioning landscaping projects to get their garden and drive in shape for 2019.

So, which pre-Christmas projects are attracting the biggest spend? According to the research, the average planned spend on work relating to an extension was £12,902 – with 15% spending more than £20,000. Plumbing and insulation work attracted significant spend for those getting their home ready for the winter chill.

The research also gave an early indication that the evolving interest in electric cars will have a profound effect on home improvement spend in the future. Whilst only 3% of respondents said they planned to install an electric car charges in their property, the scale of spend was second only to major building projects (£3,479).

Improvements around the home are never cheap, especially at this time of year, so as part of the survey AA also asked consumers where the money to fund these projects would come from. People were more likely to draw on their savings (49%), with just 17% relying on finance. Interestingly, those looking for unsecured finance were three times more likely to say they would max out their credit card rather than apply for a personal loan at a much more competitive APR.

Families with greater and varied pressures on their disposable income, were more likely to borrow to fund home improvements - with parents of bigger families (defined as households with three or more children) more likely to rely on store finance. 

AA director of financial services David Searle commented on the findings: “The nation’s obsession with home improvements is no longer a seasonal past-time for the summer months. The trend for retail sales before Christmas could have an enduring impact not just on Christmas shopping but home improvements too.”

“For many homeowners, home improvement projects make sound financial sense as they can tangibly improve the value of a property.”

The table below details the projects and spend levels for people planning home improvements during the final three months of 2018.


Improvement project(s) planned over the next 3 months

Average planned spend per project

(Q4 2018)

Variance +/-

on Q3 spend

% doing this project

The big spenders

Who’s most likely to be doing it



+ £1,798


15% spending more than £20K

Young families 10%



+ £91


2% spending more than £5K

Young families (23%)



+ £72


3% spending more than £3K

Students (12%)



- £95


9% spending more than £5K

East Midlands 

Upgrading tech


- £123


2% spending more than £2.5K

Under 25s




- £129


5% spending more than £2.5K

First children/ Children under 5




- £280


8% spending more than £5K

Big families (3+ children)




- £613


7% spending more than £10K

Planning to move (19%)

Green projects


- £870


3% spending more than £5K

Under 25s


Electric car charger




1% more than £1K

Under 25s (8%)





3% spending more than 5K

Students (13%)




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