Never mind your Oui’s and Sí’s, there’s new lingo to learn for foreign holidays this year… Covid passports. Quarantine hotels. Red, green or amber? (Remember when it was just red, white or rosé? And double vodka not double vaxxer?) Booking 14 nights abroad has now become so complex, and uncertain, that many of us are simply ditching the idea and staying put.
Huge numbers of Brits, who’d usually head for Europe or beyond, are holidaying at home instead. Research by both Travelodge and holidaycottages.co.uk suggests that accounts for as many as 80% of us. What’s more, we have months of unspent beer-and-skittles money burning a great big hole. That’s got to be fantastic news for UK retailers.
Sales up, up and away
In fact, market researcher, Mintel has forecast that domestic holiday sales will hit “a 10-year high” this summer. With the nation’s holidaymakers spending 22% more than they did last year, at an estimated £7.1 billion. That’s a whole lot of buckets, spades and ice-cream.
Many retailers have been quick to react to the staycation phenomenon. Morrisons has introduced the Staycation Click and Collect shop, available from over 440 of its stores. Grouping products by meal times, they also offer an Accessories and Equipment category that includes all your camping staples, from bin liners to barbecues. Tesco and Asda both now include a ‘Staycation’ section on their online grocery shop too, and Sainsbury’s are using the term in key messaging online.
Halfords has gone one step further, positioning itself as “the home of great staycations”, with a focus on products such as camping gear and bicycles, but leading with their service offer. They’ll get you fully ready to go, they say, with roof and bike rack fittings, car and bike checks.
Other retailers are taking a more direct approach and creating (or boosting) their presence in key destinations. Lifestyle brand, Joules is in the process of opening six stores in Center Parcs sites across the country, focused on providing ‘staycation essentials’. And, to coincide with more people moving about the UK, WHSmith is opening 100 new travel stores.
Splash the cash
It’s not just the fact that we’re spending holiday pounds here, and not Euros there, that’s fuelling this boost to the British high street. It seems, we have more spare cash too – and a desire to splash it – thanks to a long time without access to shopping and entertainment during lockdowns.
According to KPMG UK Head of Retail, Paul Martin, “…there is an estimated £140bn of savings that could be used as consumers’ moods shifts to spend mode.”
Tourist towns and villages up and down the country will benefit from our staycation spending. With North Wales, Cumbria and Cornwall currently topping the chart of the most popular UK holiday regions this year.
So, time for retailers to crack open the warm beer and picnic nibbles then? Well, there is a little sand in the cheese and pickle…
We all remember the images of empty supermarket shelves back in March last year and the so-called panic buying. With demand continuing to rise this summer, particularly in those staycation hotspots, maintaining stock levels will be a huge challenge for retailers.
According to a CBI report, a combination of Brexit, red tape, Covid restrictions and labour shortages is affecting supply. Stock levels, across retail, wholesale and the motor trades sector have reached the lowest point since 1983 for two consecutive months. And “the situation is expected to deteriorate further in August”.
There are multiple factors at play here. Hold ups at UK ports, due to Brexit legislation and Covid restrictions is one issue. The “pingdemic” is another. Employees throughout the supply chain, including hauliers, are now having to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone Covid-positive. That’s on top of driver shortages already affecting the logistics industry. With around 25,000 EU truckers returning home after Brexit, Logistics UK estimates there’s now a shortfall of 90,000 HGV drivers.
Add in the number of absentee factory workers, shelf stackers, checkout staff, and others, during holiday season too, and the effect is obvious.
Thankfully, the government is taking action, after pressure from the British Retail Consortium and others. Daily testing for key workers is being introduced in the food sector. Which means supermarket and distribution staff will be able to keep working if they test negative, even if ‘pinged’ by the NHS app.
So, it looks like the shortages can be kept to a minimum, at least for the vital food sector. We’ll watch with interest to see how it all pans out. Happy Staycation!