Don't Do It Yourself as Home Improvement Sales Slide-Virgin Money Says

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DIY sales are taking a hammering on plastic as shoppers cut back on home improvement spending, analysis of Virgin Money Card data shows*

The reality isn't quite as rosy - home improvement spending is suffering just as much as other luxury spending with massive drops in the last four months of 2008.

Spending data from the Virgin credit card, which is Britain's fastest-growing and offers 16 months 0.0% per annum on balance transfers, shows total spending on home improvements dropped by 10 per cent in 2008 compared with the previous year.

Home improvement spending was lower in 2008 in nine months of the year compared with 2007 with only January 2008 showing a substantial increase on the same month in 2007, the analysis shows.

And the slowdown in home improvement spending accelerated from September 2008 when the financial crisis really hit home - home improvement spending in the last 4 months of 2008 was 21 per cent lower than the same period last year.

The figures from Virgin Money confirm the slowdown in DIY spending as revealed by Homebase owner Home Retail Group which saw spending drop by 10.2 per cent in the 18 weeks to January 3rd.

And they indicate that homeowners, instead of spending more on DIY to compensate for not being able to move house, are simply cutting spending. Virgin Money card spending data shows a growing trend to cut back with shoppers switching to discount stores.

Grant Bather of Virgin Money, said: "Optimists might have hoped that DIY and home improvement spending would hold up as homeowners concentrated on making their current home better even though they couldn't move house.

"The reality isn't quite as rosy - home improvement spending is suffering just as much as other luxury spending with massive drops in the last four months of 2008."

Virgin credit card is offering 16 months 0.0% per annum on balance transfers to new customers (plus a handling fee of 2.98%) and they will also benefit from 0.0% per annum on card purchases for six months from the date of application**. The typical rate is 16.6% APR variable.

*Virgin Money data. Comparing 2007 with 2008.
**Repayments are allocated to balances at the lowest rates first. If you have balances attracting the same promotional rate, we allocate repayments to the balance at the promotional rate which ends first.

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