Essential reading for retailers and suppliers in the home improvement market

First time buyers and renters go months without furniture when moving into a new property

Published: 14 October 2019 - Neil Mead

Thousands of renters and first-time buyers are going without key furniture items for weeks or months after moving in, according to a new British Heart Foundation (BHF) survey. The survey of over 2000 first time buyers and renters in the UK found that roughly three in five (58%) don’t have enough money to properly furnish their new home when they move in. At least one in four (24%) wait weeks or months before getting key furniture items they need to live comfortably.

As a result, nearly half of respondents (50%) would describe the quality of their homeware and furniture as average or poor. Furthermore, roughly a quarter (23%) of first time buyers and renters say that the interior look of their homes and the condition of their furniture and homewares has a negative impact on their wellbeing. This rose to more than a third (36%) in 16-24 year olds, many of who may be renting for the first time.

The figure was highest among Londoners - with a third (30%) claiming they felt a negative impact on their wellbeing when looking at the interior of their homes.

Allison Swaine-Hughes, Retail Director at the BHF, said: “These survey findings show that creating a comfortable home on a modest budget can be difficult for first time buyers and renters faced with the cost of large deposits, mortgage and rental payments.”

The survey has been released as part of the BHF’s Reuse Revolution campaign, which is encouraging the nation to shop, upcycle and donate second hand furniture. It says that millions more people – including first-time buyers and renters - could be benefiting from the unique, high-quality and affordable items that are available second hand.

While a shift in shopping habits is afoot - two in five of first time buyers and renters surveyed (41%) have bought second hand furniture and homewares and similarly, nearly a third (31%) have taken advantage of second hand sites like eBay and Gumtree there are still thousands of first time buyers and renters in the UK overlooking the opportunity to find good quality, unique and affordable furniture through sources like charity shops or via online resell outlets.

Allison continues: “We’ve seen increasing numbers of people visiting our shops for high quality, affordable furniture and homeware to give their first home a unique look, often with a lick of paint or small adaptation. This trend is preventing thousands of tonnes of items ending up in landfill, and filling homes with unique, often vintage looking furniture.” 

“This month we are asking the public to join the Reuse Revolution and shop, upcycle or donate their second hand furniture while helping to raise funds for life-saving heart research.”

Ky Ismet and his partner James Burrow of lifestyle brand, A House Like This, recently renovated their home using charity shop items, Ky says:  ‘We were so conscious whilst renovating our home that the process can be one that creates unnecessary waste and add to more of the problems we already have in our society. 

While it’s key to have some luxuries in life for your own wellbeing it’s vital to think about how you can save money and resources by purchasing items from charity shops. More often than not items will be built to last and have a history already that you can add to by giving it a second chance. Making a conscious effort to shop less and make smarter decisions when you do, can make a big difference overall.”

Last year, the BHF reused and recycled over 42,000 tonnes of furniture and electrical products included 185,000 sofas and 50,000 TVs. This helped prevent 53,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions being released into the atmosphere.

For further information on the Reuse Revolution and information about how to locate your nearest BHF shop, please visit


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