150730 Rise of the staycation
  • Staycations well ahead… Tuesday’s To The Point post looked into MPs’ summer holidays. Today’s concerns the rest of us. The above graph compares the number of holidays that Britons take at home with the number they take abroad. Staycations versus awaycations, as it were. And the winner? Staycations. 53 million of these trips were made last year, compared to 39 million abroad.
  • …thanks, in part, to the crash… But what really stands out from the graph is the connexion of its two lines. When one goes up the other tends to go down; when one goes down the other tends to go up. This was most evident in 2009. That year, the number of staycations rose by almost 9 million, or 17 per cent. Meanwhile, the number of holidays taken abroad declined by 7 million, or 16 per cent. The correspondence between the two is pretty close.
  • …but for how much longer? Much of the above will be unsurprising: of course people swapped their expensive foreign jaunts for cheaper domestic ones as soon as the downturn struck. But what will happen as the economy recovers? So far, the number of staycations has fallen by 10 per cent since that high of 59 million in 2009. The number of holidays taken abroad has risen by 6 per cent from the low of 36 million in 2012.
  • Mismatched recoveries. And yet, whilst the economy has recovered its lost growth and then some, the number of foreign holidays is still considerably lower than it was before the crash. People may be returning to the runways, but they’re only doing so slowly. Do they still not feel comfortable in their pocketbooks? Have staycations become more popular regardless? Or could some other cryptic cause – such as recent plane disasters – be behind it all?
  • The bottom line. These are not entirely moot questions. According to the latest figures that I can find*, staycations account for about £57 billion of spending each year. That’s the same as is collectively spent by Brits going abroad and by foreigners coming here – combined. What a boon if this were upheld even as the economy keeps on growing.

* There’s a more recent release here, but it doesn’t update the relevant numbers.