Cold and wet weather boosts overseas holiday bookings

A third of people are prioritising overseas summer holidays as bad weather puts a dampener on domestic trips, new data reveals.

Almost two fifths (39%) of the 2,000 people asked are hoping to escape the wet and cold in search sunshine, according to Barclays research.

The bank’s consumer card spending report for April shows travel agents having another positive month, rising 7.1% – the same level as March – as holidaymakers booked summer getaways. 

But hotels, resorts and accommodation saw their first decline (-0.7%) since May 2023. 

A third (32%) of consumers say they are prioritising holidays abroad over staycations this year, Barclays said as it reported monthly transactions at travel agents rising by 14.4%.

Airlines saw a 6.2% growth in monthly spending, with transactions up by 9.2%. However, this was a reduction on the 9.7% growth figure in March.  

Barclays said: “Consumer card spending slowed to 1.6% growth in April, down from 1.9% in both March and February, and below the latest CPIH [Consumer Prices Index] inflation rate of 3.8%. 

“While consumer confidence in household finances rose to its highest level in over three years, a slowdown in food price inflation and cutbacks on food and drink led to a decline for restaurants and the smallest uplift in supermarket spending since June 2022. 

“Meanwhile, cold and wet weather dampened retail sales, but Easter and summer holiday bookings boosted pubs, entertainment and international travel.”

The bank’s chief UK economist Jack Meaning said: “With inflation expected to have dropped back to two per cent in April, and with many anticipating a boost from the National Living Wage increase, it is encouraging to see consumer confidence picking up. 

“Given the long squeeze consumers have faced, it may take time for this to translate into stronger discretionary expenditure, but easing interest rates in the second half of this year should spur consumers’ confidence and spending.”

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