A survey, commissioned by Travis Perkins, of over 1,600 tradespeople across the country has revealed that the vast majority are optimistic on their prospects for the beginning of 2021.

Almost nine in ten (87%) of respondents, who represent a snapshot of the nation’s builders, electricians, plumbers, joiners and other tradespeople, believe their workloads will increase or remain the same this year compared to 2020, while more than a third (36%) expect their materials purchases to increase in the next two months.

The results continue to show that domestic repairs and maintenance will be the key component of workloads for the vast majority of the UK’s tradespeople with 78% expecting this area to be the major driver of their work over the next two month period.

Responses to the survey highlight the impact of the pandemic and corresponding restrictions on the types of domestic work being undertaken, with a notable increase in the number of projects involving office builds and study conversions (34% reporting an increase), driven by the expectation of a future where homeworking is significantly more commonplace.

Similarly, there has been an increase in garden landscaping work (27% reporting an increase) as homeowners prioritise outdoor projects that are easier for tradespeople to undertake during lockdown and will allow them enjoy their gardens more in the coming spring and summer months in anticipation of increased time at home.  

The survey also showed that 92% of respondents expect a greater impact on their work from COVID-19 than from Brexit during 2021.

The survey is the second full publication of Travis Perkins’ RMI Index following the inaugural report published in August 2020.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Nick Roberts, CEO of Travis Perkins plc said: “This report bears testament to the ability of the UK’s tradespeople to see through short-term headwinds and plan for the longer-term economic recovery.

“Challenges still remain, both in emerging from the COVID-19 crisis and dealing with the aftermath of Brexit, but the overarching picture from the tradespeople that we surveyed is one of cautious optimism. Workloads remain robust, projects continue to be undertaken despite the lockdown restrictions, and homeowners are increasingly looking to adapt their homes to deal with the changes we as a society have seen over the past year.”

The survey was conducted in January 2021 and the results are based on the responses from over 1,600 respondents.

Respondents were asked about expected workloads and material purchases over the next two months, which industries they see their work coming from and where they are based, the size of their workforce and Brexit.

Respondents represent a significant cross section of the UK market, spanning a wide variety of company sizes, from sole traders through to companies employing up to 100 staff. The majority of respondents (59%) are sole traders with 83% of all responses coming from firms employing between 1-3 people.