UK Internet visits to House and Garden retail websites have increased by 20.5% over the last 12 months despite the credit crunch and falling house prices, according to new research from Hitwise.
At the same time, UK Internet visits to estate agents and property websites have fallen by 35.2%.
House and garden retailers overtake estate agents online
A recent report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors showed that, on average, UK estate agents are now selling an average of just one property a week, and this decline is reflected online.
The credit crunch has hit online estate agents hard: in August 2007, websites in Hitwise's Business and Finance - Property category accounted for 0.85% of all UK Internet visits, but last month (August 2008) this figure fell to 0.55%.
Falling demand for houses is mirrored by consumer search behaviour, with UK Internet searches for 'houses for sale' down 53.1% between August 2007 and August 2008.
At the same time, the share of UK Internet visits to websites in Hitwise's Shopping and Classifieds - House and Garden category increased from 0.49% in August 2007 to 0.59% in August 2008, overtaking the Business and Finance - Property category on the way.
Robin Goad, Director of Research at Hitwise, commented: "It looks as if people are choosing to improve their existing houses rather than move. The interesting thing about the growth in House and Garden retailers is that it applies both to DIY retailers, such as B&Q, Screwfix and Homebase, and furniture retailers such as Ikea, Laura Ashley and Wilkinson Plus. Both types of retailer have increased their share of Internet visits over the last 12 months."
'How to' DIY queries increase 25%
One of the factors behind the success of House and Garden retailers online has been the increase in online DIY queries, as UK consumers look to improve their accommodation on a budget. UK Internet searches for the top 10 DIY-related 'how to' queries have increase by 25% over the last 12 months. In August 2008 the top DIY search was 'how to plaster', followed by 'how to lay decking' and 'how to wallpaper'.
Top 10 'how to' DIY searches in UK, August 2008:
1. how to plaster
2. how to lay decking
3. how to wallpaper
4. how to hang a door
5. how to lay a patio
6. how to lay laminate flooring
7. how to hang wallpaper
8. how to make curtains
9. how to make a canopy porch
10. how to tile a bathroom
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