Homeowners keep up appearances in run-up to Christmas

Brits are a nation of Hyacinth Buckets – committed to keeping up appearances by sprucing up their homes in the run up to Christmas. The average Brit intends to spend £1,426 improving their property this quarter, the highest figure this year, according to Alliance & Leicester Mortgages movingimproving index. This is 12 per cent more than last quarter (£1,270) and 10 per cent more than this time last year (£1,301).

With their nearest and dearest likely to pay a visit during the festive season, it seems people are gearing up to show off their property, mostly with low key cosmetic improvements such as a spot of decorating or painting.

The findings show:

- Nearly half (47%) of people in the UK are planning to spend some money on DIY

- Just under a third (30%) of people will decorate their homes with new carpets, curtains or furniture

- One in five (19%) plan to give their home a quick lick of paint before the festivities commence

Alliance & Leicester’s movingimproving index, which monitors quarterly DIY intentions, shows that Brits are putting off doing the costly jobs in the run-up to Christmas, with only 15 per cent planning to fit a new bathroom or kitchen.

Paul Cooper, head of mortgages at Alliance & Leicester said: “While Brits are preparing to lavish money on their homes, it seems they are cannily opting to spend more on outward or cosmetic appearances with decorating or painting, rather than costly tasks, such as a new kitchen or bathroom, so close to Christmas.

“This ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ approach is quite compelling. Whilst the Christmas period plays a big part in this, the interest rate rises in the last year may have encouraged homeowners to focus on their own properties until rates stabilise rather than purchase a new home.”

Key findings:

- 47 per cent of people in the UK plan to spend money on some form of home improvement running up to Christmas.

- The average home owner plans to spend an average of £1,426 on improving their home.

-Surprisingly, this quarter sees the first role reversal of the year, with men planning to spend 13 per cent more on home improvements than women (£1,510 compared with £1,335) suggesting that men are becoming more house-proud. This finding bucks the trend as the last three quarters this year have seen women spend more on their homes than men.

- Those in their 30s are the UK's biggest DIY spenders this quarter. They intend to enhance their homes by an average £1,685 worth of improvements while those over 60 are the least keen on shelling out money on DIY (£1,123).

- Couples intend to spend a third (33%) more than singletons on sprucing up their homes in the run up to the festive period, £1,561 compared to £1,177, indicating that perhaps they are planning to entertain at home rather than hitting the town.

Areas of spending:

- The most popular home improvement job this quarter involves decorating, such as adding new carpets, curtains or furniture - with 30 per cent of people planning to smarten up their homes in this way. The next most popular home improvement is painting which nearly one in five (19%) plan to do.

- Eight per cent intend to fit a new kitchen during these months and seven per cent plan to install a new bathroom. Seven per cent also plan to make some improvements in the garden, a surprising figure considering the cold weather.

Around the regions:

- For the first time this year, people in Yorkshire and Humberside plan to spend the most on DIY this winter with an average of £1,649 per person, 16 per cent above the national average (£1,426). Those in the East Midlands plan to spend the least, at £1,043 per person, 27 per cent below the national average.

- Those from East Anglia are the most likely to decorate their properties this winter (35%) with Londoners being the least likely to fork out on new curtains, carpets or furniture in the run up to Christmas (24%).

- Scots are the mostly likely to paint their homes in the winter months (30%) while those in the West Midlands are the least likely to get their paintbrushes out (11%).