UK households saw financial pressures ease in December, according to the Markit Household Finance Index (HFI), which is compiled every month.
The figures are an important indicator for discretionary spend trends in garden centres and garden design.
After falling in July following the EU referendum, workplace activity increased solidly for the fifth consecutive month during December.
"In fact, the latest seasonally adjusted reading was among the highest recorded since the survey’s inception in February 2009," said IHS Markit economist Philip Leake.
The further rise in workplace activity and fewer job insecurities combined to help ease the perceived strain on current finances, he said.
However, stagnant pay and rising inflation perceptions continued to squeeze finances at the end of 2016.
Expectations for finances in 12 months’ time pointed to "one of the worst outlooks" over the past three years during December. Income remains stagnant especially for low earners.
"With inflation still expected to rise over the coming year, UK households maintained their hawkish stance towards Bank of England monetary policy in December."
Leake added: "UK households reported a relatively subdued financial strain in December. However, higher living costs are weighing on the financial outlook.
"Downbeat sentiment was evident for the ninth straight month, with December’s expectations among the worst recorded over the past three years.
"Fears about greater inflation ahead are also underpinning pessimism towards the coming year. Stronger inflation, along with stagnant pay and an uncertain Brexit agenda, looks to be behind households’ worries about the future."