Home and good lifestyle

Do you spend money on your home or looks?

  • by Spotong
  • Sep 15, 2013
  • 293
  • Events
Modern households are less worried about their home and they spend more money on their looks and enjoying the good life.

Modern households are less worried about their homes and its condition and they spend more money on their looks and enjoying the good life.

According to the Household Consumer for Household Services, two of the most rapid long term growth areas in real consumption expenditure have been ‘Clothing and Footwear’ and ‘Recreation, Entertainment and Culture’.

 FNB Household and Consumer Strategist, John Loos says there is a degree of short term cyclicality to household consumer demand for household services, which includes domestic workers along with a broader spectrum of home maintenance and upkeep-related services. And he says the economy has not been firing on all cylinders in recent years.

Recently, the Institute of Race Relations published statistics on the estimates of the number of people employed as domestic workers annually in South Africa since 2001.

It is estimated that, there were 1.288 million domestic workers employed in 2006, following a few great economic years which had arguably led to an increase in this number from 1.188 million in 2001. The number had dropped to 1.153 million by 2012.

Modern households are less worried about their homes and its condition and they spend more money on their looks and enjoying the good life.

In a country where less skilled sections of the labour force face high unemployment rates, these figures should perhaps be a concern, given that this sector has traditionally been a sizeable provider of employment to low skilled labour.

Loos says the Real Household Expenditure on Household Services has grown in the long term, buoyed by a growing number of households. However, he says the growth has been “sub-par”, below overall real long term household consumption expenditure growth, because the average household depends less on household and domestic worker services, and they allocates a larger share of income to other ‘essential’ items.

“Already from the late 1950s, we have seen a long term decline in the percentage of homes built with domestic workers’ quarters, an early sign of diminishing dependence on domestic workers as the live-in worker started losing appeal for some.” 

He said an introduction of the stringent labour laws in recent decades may well have been a factor in curbing domestic worker demand growth, while security motives may have also played a role in some cases.


“However, these can often lead to an outsourcing of domestic worker services to cleaning agencies and gardening services companies, and not always a reduction in demand.”

Loos said a long term increase in urban land scarcity (and thus land prices) has led to a multi-decade decline in the average size of stands as well as the average size of homes built.

He said the homes valued by FNB over the past decade or so, from a peak average stand size of 1.171 square metres for full title homes built in the 1975/79 period, the average stand size for homes built from 2010 to date has more than halved to 506 square metres.

And on top of it there is a greater share of sectional title homes being built these days. With regard to average building size, the largest homes were also built in the 1975 to 79 period, with average building size peaking at 212 square metres. This has since declined to 143 square metres for the period 2010 and beyond.

“This should automatically reduce the dependence of the average household on household and domestic worker services. This means that ongoing growth in the number of formal households, which has indeed happened, would be crucial in offsetting this negative impact and keeping demand for household services growing positively albeit at mediocre rates.” 

He said there is a “crowding out effect” emanating from a combination of high price inflation and proliferation in the number of existing items perceived by many as “essential”.

“These include health products and services consumption expenditure, education, household fuel and power, and transport and communication expenditure.

“These four major expenditure categories have increased their joint shares of nominal consumer spend from 10.6% in 1970 to 16.6% in 1990, and further to 25.2% by 2011, thus more than doubling their shares in 41 years.”

Loos said an increased availability of partial substitutes in the form of a myriad of steadily improving household appliances aimed at making household tasks a lot easier, from cleaning to food preparing to home maintenance.

The substitution effect is not all about cheap household appliances often produced by competitive foreign labour though. Domestically, food retailers are increasingly good at preparing food to “ready to eat” levels, and of course there’s the mushrooming fast food industry all making it easier- diminishing the need for the domestic worker that prepares food for the household.