Freeweb Millennium Falcon

A long time ago, around 40 years in fact, Star Wars hit our screens for the first time. George Lucas’ classic series had a big impact and soon became a hallmark of sci-fi cinema; so much so that even after 40 years (and a string of sub par prequels) the franchise is still going strong.

It was no surprise then that the release of the first trailer for The Last Jedi quickly became a trending topic. Building on the success of 2015’s The Force Awakens, as well as last year’s spin-off Rogue One, this latest episode will see Rey teaming up with Luke Skywalker to battle Kylo Ren and the Sith.

A lot has changed in that far far away galaxy since 1977 and the same can definitely be said for the UK. For homeowners and Pros alike, the world as it is today is a far cry from what it was in the 1970s. Harrison Ford would certainly agree, given that one of his earliest encounters with George Lucas involved putting up a set of shelves for him as a carpenter!

For one, going to see a new Star Wars movie is a lot more expensive now than it was in the 1970s: a cinema ticket for A New Hope when it first came out would have set you back less than 83 pence. While this might not sound like much, many would have seen it as dear back in the day. In 1977, the average weekly wage for a construction worker was around £70.20, compared to £587 today.

Of course, Star Wars was far from the only highlight of 1977. Another was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, a huge event which saw celebrations across the Commonwealth. At the time, buying a colour TV licence to see the celebrations would set you back £18, less than one eighth of what it costs today (£145.50). If you did not have a TV, of course, you could always head down to your local pub to watch the Jubilee. This would not have broken the bank either, since 40 pence would be enough to buy you a pint of beer (or several depending on where you lived in the UK!) Smoking, too, was much cheaper way back when. These days, a pack of 20 cigarettes costs around £8.89, compared to just 20 pence in 1977!

Home improvement clients in the 1970s also had vastly different ideas than today about what made a modern and trendy home. Tradesmen would be called in by wealthy homeowners who wanted interior stone cladding for their walls, sunken sofa pits for the living room and bright, bold colours for almost any room in the house.

Technology in the 1970s also seems light years behind what we have today. The summer of 1977 saw the release of the Apple II home computer, an 8-bit pre-packaged computer with a price tag of $1,298.00. Today an iPhone X would set you back $999, but while the relative price of technology has gone down, demand has only risen. These days it is fundamental to both homeowners and Pros. Very few businesses lack an online presence, and if a tradesman does not keep their phone with them at all times they could risk missing out on valuable business leads.

While some things have changed, others have almost stayed the same. The Ford Transit van has been a top choice for tradesmen for over 50 years. When it first came out in 1965, the base price was just £542. By 1977, a Ford Transit would have cost closer to £2,800, while now you would be lucky to buy a new model for anything less than £23,000!

One of the most significant costs in 1977 was for petrol (and not just because it was also the year that Top Gear first hit our screens). In fact, 1977 was the first year that petrol was included in the UK inflation basket. Back then both petrol and diesel cost the equivalent of 18p per litre, compared to £1.16 and £1.18 today: that is an increase of over 644% on both counts.

Things have even changed when it comes to everyday essentials. Unfortunately for tradesmen of the time, there were only 23 B&Q stores in the UK in 1977, compared to a whopping 359 in 2017.

The cost of food in the 1970s would certainly make your mouth water. A pint of milk cost a mere 12 pence compared to 43 pence today. Meanwhile a loaf of sliced white bread would have cost 20 pence and bananas just £0.37 per kg. Imagine starting the day with a builder’s breakfast, all for less than one pound!

Alternatively, you could always pop into one of the UK’s ten McDonald’s restaurants to enjoy a 40 pence Big Mac.

Plentific spokesperson Stephen Jury said: “It’s amazing to see how things have changed since 1977. Over 40 years it seems as though the cost of everything from bread to bricks and mortar has skyrocketed. Who would have imagined in 1977 that we’d end up having to pay over £200,000 for a standard house, or nearly £9 for a pack of cigarettes? Still, some things never change. We still have Star Wars, for one!

“It is also more important than ever to pay Pros what they are worth and to treat them respectfully. We are far less DIY-savvy as a nation than we were in the 1970s: if anything, the skills, knowledge and experience of a good-quality trade professional are more valuable today than ever before; a bit like a certain profession in a galaxy far far away.”