UK consumers ‘spending more on holidays’ despite cost of living crisis

Almost half (46%) of Europeans have increased their travel budgets compared to pre-pandemic, despite the ongoing cost of living crisis.

The proportion rises to 48% of UK holidaymakers, according to a new poll of 3,050 British and European holidaymakers.

Only 21% of those surveyed said that their budget had decreased over the last three years – just 19% in the UK. 

Of those spending more on holidays compared to 2019, 31% in both Europe and the UK were doing so due to an increased prioritisation of holidays and trips away in spending decisions.

While more than half (55%) of respondents say they are willing to pay more for eco- and sustainability credentials, ESG does not show up in their top five considerations when choosing accommodation.

However, increasing sustainability awareness is driving behavioural changes elsewhere.

Growing ESG awareness is prompting choices such as staycations. Almost a third (30%) of those polled by professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) are holidaying closer to home, while 23% are reducing the number of trips and 19% are going on fewer, but longer, trips.

Wildfires in the Mediterranean this summer is having an impact on holiday plans with 38% reconsidering future travel habits as a result.

Of those changing their plans, 31% intend to holiday in the same location just at different times of the year.

Company managing director Ed Bignold said: “Despite tougher economic times, more and more people are prioritising holidays, indicating that it’s one of the non-negotiables for household budgets, even if savings have dried up. 

“What was initially seen as just a rush to spend pent-up savings post-Covid has solidified into a sustained behavioural change. 

“This explains why the holiday industry has been so resilient to the wider slowdown in discretionary spending so far this year and suggests that the outlook for the industry is much brighter than perhaps expected.”

He added: “Investors and operators should take note of the changing demands of holidaymakers, while they are seemingly not willing to pay more for more ESG credentials, there is evidence to suggest they are changing their behaviour as they become increasingly climate-conscious with holidays closer to home or fewer, but longer, trips.”

A&M also looked at attitudes to holidays in Saudia Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, where almost 80% of adults reported putting more money into travel, and nearly half of those said their budgets have increased “considerably.”

Meanwhile, Bignold responded to the fall in inflation, saying: “Today’s data from the ONS shows that inflation is finally heading in the right direction in the restaurant and hotel sector, with inflation down to 7.6% in October from 8.6% in September. Inflation also continues to abate across the wider economy, falling to 4.7% in October, down from 6.3% in September.

“Falling food prices and stabilising wage growth have helped bring pricing down to more normal levels. Despite a period of high prices, consumer appetite seems to have held up. Our recent research shows that nearly half of Brits had increased their holiday budgets compared to before Covid-19, despite having used up most of their excess pandemic savings.

“Enjoyment of leisure time continues to rank among consumers’ top priorities, and they’re willing to cut back elsewhere to spend in hospitality and leisure venues.

 “With base rate rises paused for the moment, and as we enter the festive period, this should be good news for the hospitality industry. Price growth is expected to continue to decline in the coming months, although businesses will need to remain vigilant and flexible when it comes to pricing as higher rates start to impact household budgets.”

Share article

View Comments

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.