Trust holds key to growth in home improvement

An exclusive in the programme for the elemental Housing Hub at last month’s InstallerSHOW was the launch of the Home Improvement Report 2024, published by Barbour ABI and presented in conjunction with the National Home Improvement Council (NHIC).

The report assesses the impact of economic disruption on the market and identifies the key drivers of home improvement and planning applications. It offers a review of past and current performance, as well as forecasts for future activity and expectations.

The report opens with a summary of short- and long-term trends. It then breaks this down on a geographic basis, with overviews for nine English regions, plus Scotland and Wales.

In brief, it analyses where the sector has been, where it is now, and where it is going. The aim is to uncover exactly where the value is created and how the money is being spent.

Rollercoaster ride since 2019

Speaking at the launch, consultant analyst and Editor of the Report for Barbour ABI Brian Green said the housing market has effectively been on a “massive rollercoaster ride since 2019”, so it is important to understand the drivers behind the trends in improvement.

He described the main market shifts as being driven by what he called the ‘3 Ds’:

  • Demographic trends, such as older residents spending more;
  • Decarbonisation, including spend on energy efficiency prompted by rising fuel bills; plus
  • Digitalisation, especially in connection with more people now working from home (WFH).

Slow pick-up as market lags

Price pressures and affordability concerns have seen the market move away from income-based investment towards wealth-based financing. Nick Snazell, Market Insight & Strategy Director at STARK Building Materials UK, highlighted how this dynamic plays out differently on a regional basis, creating disparities between urban and rural markets.

From his industry perspective, Snazell flagged the recent rise in “demand for stronger links between merchant and end user” as a relatively new trend for building materials.

He also shared the view that the market will likely be “slow to pick up” in the wake of the General Election, but this lag will work its way out out over time, as confidence returns.

Call to rebuild consumer confidence

Overall, the data in the report tells a story of a market experiencing levels of decline similar to those seen in pre-pandemic times. Therefore, the key factor helping drive a recovery in customer confidence in the home improvement industry is trust, based on quality of work, said Anna Scothern, CEO, National Home Improvement Council (NHIC).

This means, there is “an opportunity for smart business owners to recognise that now is the time to upskill” in a bid to build that trust and restore confidence, concluded Scothern.