Holidays are still a ‘must-do’ but only for consumers who are employed and positive about the future of their employment, according to research from Deloitte.

The Deloitte Consumer Tracker shows that while feelings on disposable income are at their highest for two years, people still remain cautious about spending on holidays, short breaks and going out.

Trends for booking holidays in the first quarter of this year showed that 21% of consumers spent less and 13% spent more than in the previous quarter. The figures were identical to the previous quarter but a 3% improvement on the same time last year.

Deloitte said people were looking online and at brochures to plan their holidays as a likely result of recent cold weather.

Meanwhile, 31% of consumers spent less on eating out and short hotel breaks during the first three months, while 15% spent more.

Graham Pickett, head of travel, hospitality and leisure at Deloitte, said: “This year is expected to be the most traditional for a while for the travel sector. 

“Consumers had their Christmas lunch then started looking online and at travel brochures and planning their holidays.  Indeed, the sector has reported a rise in bookings in the outbound travel market during January and February, a likely result of the prolonged cold spell.

“Generally, consumers are reducing the number and length of the holidays they plan to take.  But, if they are in employment, they are taking that break. 

“Their concerns around currency worries are influencing the type of holiday they’re purchasing with travel operators reporting a rise in the take up of fixed price all inclusive packages.”

Ben Perkins, head of consumer business research at Deloitte, said: “The big picture is of an economy that has grown by just 0.4% in the last 18 months. 

“The consumer economy is likely to remain relatively subdued for most of 2013.  However, there is a definite upward trend in sentiment, and the consensus view is that the recovery will gain traction as the year progresses.”

UK consumer sentiment about disposable income is at its highest for two years, according to the report.  However, while consumers are at their most optimistic about the level of cash they have available since the Tracker began in 2011, discretionary spending remains subdued. 

Many consumers remain cautious about spending their cash on going out, booking short hotel breaks and holidays.