After some turbulent economic times, there are signs that things are looking up for consumers this spring.
I've written over the past few months about noticing an increase in consumer confidence, based on the experience of my business and through anecdotal evidence from fellow business owners in the trades. This can only be positive for economic stimulation.
I believe a good proportion of this growth comes as a result of a strengthening of the housing market here, along with a number of positive economic growth predictions from organisations such as the Bank of England and the CBI.
When the housing market picks up, either in terms of sales or rental, it's always a trigger for the maintenance industry. In particular it is reflected in an increase in planned maintenance, such as boiler replacement and small building works. At Pimlico Plumbers we've seen the average invoice rise around 10 per cent over the last six months as this has become more prevalent.
In recent years, people have been made cautious and are far more selective about what they spend their money on. Now that's changing.
While we witnessed the early signs of a return of consumer confidence at the end of last year, the type of work we have been undertaking over the last few months is demonstrating that people are, for the first time in almost five years, making pre-recession type decisions about investing in their properties. It's always a good barometer of the economy in general - when people start spending on home improvements, things are looking up. Now we are seeing homeowners again looking to improve their homes ready for sale or are upgrading a new property when they move in.
I expect this trend to continue and improve when the Help to Buy scheme introduced by the Chancellor in his Budget kicks in next year. I liked Boris Johnson's recent comments to large housing developers that they must start building on land they are sitting on (as opposed to waiting till the value goes up), or face compulsory purchase orders.
Avoiding the mythical 'triple dip' recession and the indications that there is growth on the near horizon appears to have given people the reassurance that they can start spending again - and hopefully it'll carry on building throughout the rest of the year.