Third of holidaymakers cut budgets this year, research reveals

Nearly two-thirds of the population (60%) will experience a holiday this year with the average household’s total budget being £1,369, according to research published today by advisory firm Zolfo Cooper.

The leisure spending habits of 3,000 people are analysed in the Zolfo Cooper Leisure Wallet Report which for the first time also includes an in-depth study of holiday spending. The report reveals more people will experience a holiday in the UK (60%) than abroad (40%). The popularity of domestic holidays comes despite the fact that when asked to compare UK and foreign holidays three times as many people said domestic holidays are “overpriced” than said they are “better value”.

Budgets vary considerably by age and region. The average household’s outlay on summer holidays this year, including travelling, accommodation and food, emerged as £1,369. It is considerably lower among 18-34 year old respondents at £1,069 whereas 35-54 year olds spend £1,398 and over-55s spend £1,551 on average. Regionally the typical budget varies from £1,512 in the South East and £1,489 in London to £1,250 in the East of England and £1,237 in the West Midlands. While the majority of people (52%) did not cut their holiday budgets this year, more than a third (35%) did.

Among those holidaying in the UK, choice of accommodation varies considerably depending on holidaymaker’s age.  Camping is the most popular choice among 18-34 year olds (23%), those in the 35-54 age range prefer to rent holiday homes (23%) and the over-55s most commonly opt for mid-range hotels (31%).

Increasingly, people are also using the internet to review their experiences. The most common reviewers of hotels are the over-55s, among whom nearly a third (31%) of the overall population have reviewed a hotel at least once in the last six months, compared to 28% of 18-34 year olds and 23% of 35-54 year olds.

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Paul Hemming, Partner at Zolfo Cooper, said: “Rewarding ourselves with a holiday, and the opportunity to ‘get away from it all’ that this represents, remains a priority and people seem more willing to cut back in other areas of their leisure spend such as going to pubs and bars. Yet more than a third of holidaymakers have cut their holidaying budgets this year, while other households will have cut the holiday altogether.

“With budgets tight, the focus on getting a ‘deal’ is more crucial than ever so the perception that foreign holidays, especially to the Med, deliver better all round value for money is a major challenge for domestic providers going forward.”

Writing in the Leisure Wallet Report, Steve Endacott, Chief Executive of On Holiday Group, says the foreign holidaying market has been divided. Home-owners with stable jobs still booking early and refusing to compromise on quality whereas lower-income groups, the traditional late bookers, are in many cases being frozen out of the market altogether.

He adds: “With fuel prices looking set to rise further and the UK economy expected to remain depressed, the next few years are likely to remain challenging for the outbound travel sector in the UK.”