Robust trading ‘set to continue’ despite squeeze on consumers’ spending

Latest research on UK consumers’ holiday intentions suggests the strong overseas bookings since the start of this year should continue despite the pressures on household spending.

A large study by research firm Kantar at the end of 2022 found one in six UK adults (17%) had already booked their main 2023 holiday – almost unchanged year on year. But the proportion still planning a main holiday was up almost 150% year on year from 20% to 49%.
Kantar also found twice as many consumers planning to cut spending on eating out as intending to cut holiday spending, and more planning to cut back large purchases than reduce leisure travel.

One in four (24%) did intend to reduce holiday expenditure, but more than one in four (27%) planned to spend more, including 24% who planned to spend more on accommodation, 23% on their holiday location or eating and drinking, 20% on flights and 16% on activities.

The research found the proportion of respondents who ‘enjoyed planning holidays’ in 2022 (55%) unchanged from 2019.

But there was a significant gap between the 20% who took an overseas holiday in 2022 and the 39% who did so in 2019, suggesting a lot of people hadn’t returned abroad by the start of this year – perhaps explaining why bookings this year have been so strong.

Charlie Gordon, insight director at Kantar, said: “There is every reason to be confident the boom in early bookings for 2023 will continue. The trend data suggests holiday intentions are far more robust than last year.

“This time last year, two-thirds of people weren’t sure what their plans were regarding their main holiday. This year, we see two-thirds of people saying they have either booked or plan to book. In effect, a switch has flipped in the face of the strong headwinds we hear so much about.”

Gordon noted: “There are cost‑saving priorities across the board. But many of those priorities come before reducing holiday spending. Reducing the holiday budget is still a factor – about one‑quarter say that – but it’s definitely down the list.”

He suggested: “It’s very much how consumers feel about their personal financial situation that is driving their plans this year.”

Kantar conducted its research in November-December 2022 among 24,000 UK adults aged 15-plus.

Image via Shutterstock / kitzcorner

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