By Daniel Hunter

Spending on DIY fell for the fifth successive year in 2012, reaching its lowest level since 2000, according to research by Lloyds TSB. Households spent a total of £10.5 billion on DIY in 2012 — equivalent to around £400 per household; the lowest total since 2000.

There was a fall of 8% in real terms (i.e. after allowing for inflation) from the total of £11.3 billion spent in 2011. Spending in 2012 was a third lower than the peak of £15.5 billion spent in 2004.

Expenditure on tools and equipment for home improvements - ranging from plumbing tools to the garden trimmer - declined slightly (-6%) from £3.6 billion in 2011 to £3.4 billion in 2012. Real spending on DIY materials, such as paint and plaster, dropped slightly more (-9%) between 2011 and 2012 from £7.7 billion to £7.0 billion.

Expenditure on tradesmen's services also fell between 2011 and 2012, declining by 7% in real terms from £7.8bn to £7.2bn. As a result, total spending on home maintenance (i.e. DIY and tradesmen's services) dropped by 7% to £17.7bn in 2012 from £19.1bn in 2011.

Whilst spending on tradesmen's services has fallen (-7%) in the past eight years, it has done so at a much slower pace than spending on DIY (-33%). Over the same period, overall spending on home maintenance has fallen by a quarter (-24%).

The past decade has been very much a period of two highly differing halves. Spending on DIY increased by 13% between 2002 and 2007 as the housing market boomed. This was particularly reflected in a 42% rise in spending on tools. However, since the peak of the housing market in 2007, the decline in real DIY spending has fallen by a quarter.

“The continuing squeeze on discretionary incomes and the subdued state of the housing market is causing many householders to reduce their spending on home improvements. With economic conditions expected to remain challenging, the current squeeze on spending on both DIY and tradesmen is likely to continue for some time yet," Nitesh Patel, Lloyds TSB Housing Economist, commented.

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