UK removals industry activity: summer 2018

Oct 06 | 2018

The summer period is always a critical time for the UK moving industry. The Mover asked price comparison site to delve into its database to see how requests for removals quotes from around the country compare with 2017.


By the start of May 2018, had seen a 7% drop in year-on-year registrations for removals quotes. By the end of August, this deficit had nearly halved to just 3.7% (Fig. 1). The halving of this deficit is due to a strong summer period; there was a drop of just 1% in removals registrations between May and August, compared to 2017, with the month of July seeing a spike, representing an 8% increase year-on-year. The summer periods in both 2017 and 2018 performed significantly better than in 2016, with a 23.5% increase in summer period registrations from 2016 to 2018. The importance of a strong summer period is highlighted in Fig. 2, which shows that the months of May - August typically contribute nearly 40% of yearly removals registrations.


Figure 1 – Year on year cumulative change in removals registrations – a strong summer period has halved the deficit in registrations seen by May



Figure 2 - % yearly moves per month (based on data collected in 2016 and 2017)

Regional Information

While the UK as a whole has seen little change in summer registrations compared to 2017, the same cannot be said for all regions of the country. Moves originating in Wales have seen a decline in registrations of 13% compared to 2017 and is only 3.5% up on 2016 figures. In comparison, moves originating in London have increased 8% year on year (see figure 3)

fig3Figure 3 - Year on year % change in registrations per region – London is the only region to have seen a significant increase in year on year registrations

The increase in London registrations is positive for local companies. London has a high volume of moves due to a strong rental market. This increase in volume is also beneficial and helps counteract the issues facing London removals firms such as shorter distance, smaller volume moves and issues with congestion and parking. The average move originating in London is just 46 miles, 14% below the UK average. If we consider moves occurring within London only, this value drops to less than six miles. Due to the high proportion of smaller properties in London, the average number of bedrooms is also 19% below the UK average at 1.87 bedrooms per property. In contrast, moves originating in the South East are on average 59 miles with an average of 2.35 bedrooms (see figures 4 and 5).


Figure 4 - Average moving distance per region

fig5Figure 5 - Average number of bedrooms per region


What the movers say

The Mover contacted a sample of moving companies around the country to get their opinions of the 2018 season.  Read alongside the information from, this begins to make sense.  Contributors generally thought that uncertainty over Brexit had affected trade, though nobody quite knew why.

Britannia Anchor, Manchester

Chris Smallwood, MD.
It’s been a very good year but a slow start.  Is expecting to stay busy well into September.  There has been no ‘Easter Rush’ for the last two years.

Britannia Lanes, Truro

Mark Lane, MD
After a very slow start this year the business has come back in the second quarter with figures up 45%.  There was not enough property on the market at the beginning of the year. 

Fox, Cwmbran

Stephen Denning
It’s not a normal summer.  The company has been busy and has broken budget but has not been turning work away as much as it would expect.  Prices are holding up locally but there is rarely an opportunity to charge a premium rate even for short-notice bookings.  Someone will always do it at a base rate. Other companies have been complaining that it was a very late start to the summer with some not getting going until June.

Stubbs, Lytham St. Annes

Andrew Waddington
It’s been a poor year so far with both turnover and enquiries down. It must be Brexit uncertainty that’s to blame as nothing else had changed.

Purdie Worldwide Removals,  Livingstone, Scotland

Neil Purdie
It’s been about the same as normal. Although there have been some gaps in the diary.  There have been a lot of last-minute bookings, many more than normal, which I put down to lawyers telling people not to book their move until it’s certain they will be able to move in.  The summer started early for us.

Jamvans, London

Justin Yates
Business is up 60% overall on last year.  Top end of the market seems to have tailed off probably due to large increases in prices in recent years, but smaller moves are still very strong.

Stephen Morris, London

It was a very bad start to the year, particularly in the spring.  We had a very good July but overall sales are about 10% down on the rolling year.  People being much more ‘forensic’ and wanting explanations of how quotes are arrived at.  Many customers getting 10 or more quotes via the Internet.  Requests are often cut and pasted.


Matt Hawkins
The customer intelligence company said that property exchanges are up nationally by 7.5% on 2017 numbers with rentals up by 40% over the same period.  This seems to contradict the findings by who report little change year on year.