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UK's DIY craze continues.

Demand in the DIY sector in Europe, around a third of which comprises on average decorative paints and materials, is surging ahead of economic growth rates across much of the region.

The impetus is coming from demographic and lifestyle changes as well as the wave of enthusiasm among women for interior decoration. Men are becoming less dominant in decisions regarding DIY products, particularly paint. And they are doing less of the application work as well.

A result of the influence of women is that there is a greater willingness to pay more for paint because priority is being given to quality rather than price. Expenditure on paint in Europe has also been boosted by a greater preference for color.

Overall frequency of painting in the home has been going up in many countries. People see decoration as a means of expressing individuality, rather than a matter of functionality.

A pace setter in these new tendencies in DIY in Europe is the UK, where recent surveys have found a rising zeal for interior decoration. The country's buoyant housing market has shown recent signs of peaking, while the level of retail sales is also slowing down. House prices are bottoming out after rocketing by 21% in the first quarter of this year.

However, while the UK housing sector heads downwards, the DIY market is going in the opposite direction, and demand is expected to accelerate. In a recent study carried out by Verdict Research for Focus Wickes, the growth rate in DIY sales in the UK was expected to advance from around five percent annually to an average of just under six percent in 2003-2008.

"Back in the early 1990s, a recession in the housing market had a negative effect on the DIY sector," said Jill Gater, corporate PR manager at Focus Wickes. "Now because of the steep rise in house prices, more people are staying put and deciding to redecorate their homes. The DIY market in the UK is not only growing at a rate well ahead of the growth in GDP but is also one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the country," she added.

Annual expenditure per head on DIY products in the UK rose 4.4% to $460 in 2003, according to the Focus Wickes study. Furthermore, it found that women were a big force behind the growth with almost 69% saying that they will spend the same or more on DIY in the future.

The survey showed that decorating is now far more of an issue about taste and fashion. Two thirds of respondents decorated rooms in order to keep up with the latest trends. Also, as UK householders want tasks to be easier, paint has benefitted from a move away from wallpaper.

An increase in home entertaining has also bolstered demand for DIY paints with communal areas used by guests being the focal point for decorative projects.

Men still emerge as being more confident about carrying out these DIY tasks. But the Focus Wickes survey discovered that there is an emerging group of eager DIYers among females 25-34 years old.

"Women are not only making more of the decisions on DIY but they are themselves becoming much more proficient at painting and other DIY jobs," said Gater.

A growing number of British female homeowners who live by themselves are shunning professional help and taking on the role of painters and decorators themselves, according to a study by Co-operative Financial Services. It calculates that the average female single householder spent more than 1,850 [pounds sterling] on DIY last year.

Only a quarter of single women have hired a professional over the past year. More than 60% said they did decorative jobs themselves, compared with 21% who fixed electrical faults themselves and 14% a broken-down boiler.

"This DIY mania is linked to a growing desire amongst women who live alone to make the most of their current property rather than moving to a new one," according to Cooperative Financial Services. "Almost a third of those questioned said they would rather improve their existing property this year than move."

UK LEADS, EUROPE FOLLOWS

The trends in the UK's DIY sector is reflected in similar shifts in public sentiment elsewhere in Europe.

"What we are seeing in other countries like France and in Germany is a similar change in attitude as has happened in the UK," said Edward Appleton, market research manager for UK, France and German at Rohm and Haas' Paint Quality Institute (PQI). "DIY is no longer primarily a money-saving concept but a vehicle for self-expression."

"At the same time people, particularly women, are more knowledgable about paint and have a better understanding of the ingredients in paint," he added. "In all three countries paint quality is the most important factor to consumers rather than price."

In PQI's latest survey, 88% of respondents in Germany, 83% in France and 79% in the UK believe that it pays to buy the best quality. Some 78% of UK DIYers agreed slightly or strongly that their standards have increased, while in Germany the proportion was 76% and in France 64%.

Fifty two percent of respondents in France, 45% in the UK and 41% in Germany considered DIY increasingly to be fun. Fifty eight percent in France, 48% in Germany and 38% in UK wanted to learn more about painting and decorating.

DIY expenditure in France has been moving well ahead of the growth in the economy. While GDP was virtually static last year, spending on DIY increased by four percent, while sales of DIY paint rose by five percent by volume and three to four percent by value.

In Germany, however, the paint market has been stagnant. But there is evidence of an underlying move to stronger growth in DIY.

"The German DIY paint market is heading in the same direction as that of the UK," said Appleton. "There is a definite move to color with a growing acceptance of tinting machines which were introduced into the country about three years ago. Younger German women especially are becoming more interested in color."
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Title Annotation:Europe; Do It Yourself
Author:Milmo, Sean
Publication:Coatings World
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Oct 1, 2004
Words:1013
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