Press releases

Brits now prefer 'making do' over buying new

Mike Lawler - Legal & General's general insurance business
Mike Lawler
Legal & General's
general insurance business

08 September 2011

Mike Lawler - Legal & General's general insurance business
Mike Lawler
Legal & General's
general insurance business

We're now in an era of 'making do' where two thirds of Brits (66%) say they would fix broken items rather than buy brand new replacements. Saving for the future and paying off debts also take precedence over having the most up-to-date gadgets and keeping up with the latest fashions. These new priorities have been revealed in the second Changing Face of British Homes Report, released today by Legal & General's general insurance business which reveals a significant shift in how people regard their home and their possessions over the past three years.

Saving for the future is rated an important priority for the next 12 months by over three quarters, (76%) of those polled for the Changing Face of British Homes Report, with paying off debts rated important by over half (55%) of people. In contrast, only one in five, (19%) see having the latest gadgets as important.

Our preference to 'make do and mend' is in stark contrast to the findings of the first Changing Face of British Homes Report carried out in 2008, in which 86% of Brits admitted to replacing broken or damaged household items without any attempt at fixing them first.

Upgrading properties by making home improvements – rated important by almost half of respondents, (46%) – is also revealed to be more of a priority than moving to a bigger home or a home in a better area. Only 22% rated this as a priority for the coming year.

The research also reveals that Brits are keener to spend disposable income on enjoying experiences with friends and family, such as entertaining at home, rated important by 43% of people surveyed or taking part in hobbies like sport or music (49%) than they are on buying new 'big ticket' items for their homes. Buying items such as sofas and white goods like washing machines, fridges and freezers was rated unimportant by three quarters of respondents, (73%).

Other key findings from the Changing Face of British Homes Report include:

  • Traditional possessions such as books still have sentimental value in our homes, despite increasing digitisation – almost three quarters of those polled (72%) said they hadn't converted any CDs, DVDs or books into electronic or online versions such as MP3 files and don't plan to do so over the next 12 months.
  • Almost three quarters (70%) of people said that even if they were to replace items such as CDs, DVDs and books with electronic or online versions, they would still keep the original physical items stored in their home, for example, in the attic.
  • This sentimentality is echoed in our attitudes to inheritance – even though the assumption is that under 30s would sell off treasured family items (79% of over 65s believe this), 83% of 16-24 year olds say they would not sell anything they inherited.
  • Protecting our possessions remains important for many with two thirds (66%) saying home insurance is a priority. However, more than two thirds of those polled (68%) have failed to consider how buying new items for the home might increase the value of their possessions.
  • Property ownership is now a longer-term objective for many (only 17% of 16-34 year olds say home ownership is a priority). This is encouraging young people to think differently about making a home of a rental property.
  • With 'up-cycling', the practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value and craft undergoing a resurgence in popularity, the impression of under 30s being a 'throwaway generation' is diminishing*.

Mike Lawler, director for Legal & General's general insurance business said: "We have seen a clear shift in the way we view our homes and possessions in recent years. In the first Changing Face of British Homes Report, 15% of people said they would like to dedicate a room in their home to become a library – now people are questioning the need to even have bookshelves.

These changes in attitude mean that the focus we have on items in our homes is now on budgeted upgrades and improvements, in comparison to the splurges for 'must have' items witnessed in recent years. Our research shows that Brits have become more realistic about what they can afford and are focusing on enjoying the cheaper and often more simple things in life such as spending time with friends and family. It's also clear that we still attach much sentimental value to items such as books and treasured family items and that while there is a clear increase in the number of gadgets in our homes, full digitisation is still some way off."

Home interior expert, Anna Ryder-Richardson said: "People are falling back in love with their homes. With the property market in the doldrums, people are keen to leave their own personal stamp on properties and we are experiencing a move away from the more bland interior designs that have typically appealed to buyers. As part of this we are seeing more people on the hunt for bargains and the practice of 'up-cycling' is resulting in more eclectic items re-entering our homes once again."

Mike Lawler added: "It appears that there is something of a North-South divide when it comes to prioritising home insurance. People in London were around 10% more likely than those in Liverpool to prioritise having home insurance in place. We'd like everyone, regardless of where they live in the UK to understand the need to have adequate cover, and for it to be high on people's list of priorities. It's really important that people think about the kind of cover they have in place to protect the possessions important to them. Even if households aren't spending larger sums on big ticket items, people should consider the value of small investments and upgrades around the home, whether it's a home they own or are renting.
It's important to check the value of our home contents regularly as the total amount is often a lot higher than we estimate. Legal & General has an online calculator which enables anyone to tot up their possessions, room by room and is a great way of checking that all contents and possessions are taken into account."

The Legal & General contents calculator is available at:

Notes to editors

The research for the second Changing Face of British Homes Report was conducted by Opinion Matters, an independent market research agency, between 15 and 29 July 2011. A total of 2,000 members of the public were polled across the country.

The first Changing Face of British Homes Report was issued in June 2008 and was based on an ongoing survey of over 27,000 British adults on behalf of Legal & General almost exclusively by online omnibus company, You Gov in waves of at least 2000 GB representative adults.

ii Bloomberg has predicted that Amazon expects to sell c. 8 million Kindles in 2011 ( Kindle sales are said to exceed