Holiday Spend Down 46% As Brits Abandon Foreign Vacations In Favour Of Uk Staycations

5 August 2020

  • Nationwide customer data shows 46% drop in holiday spend compared to last year with research showing 44% have abandoned travel plans due to impact of Covid-19
  • 32% will enjoy UK staycations, aiming to spend average of £480 boosting local economies
  • A fifth use money saved during lockdown to treat themselves to a well-deserved break
  • Analysis of Nationwide data shows spike in holiday transactions since lockdown eased

A staggering 44 per cent of Brits have abandoned the notion of a holiday in 2020 but close to a third will enjoy UK breaks – boosting the beleaguered economy in the process.

The impact of Covid-19 on travel plans and consumer confidence has led to a 461 per cent drop in holiday spend in 2020 compared to last year, with the number of transactions down by 64 per cent, according to the latest Spending Report data from Nationwide Building Society. The Society’s figures, combined with a poll2 of more than 2,000 people, shows how Covid-19 continues to reshape how the nation is spending.

The Nationwide survey shows that, despite the reopening of air corridors to countries across Europe and beyond, the UK is set to be the biggest beneficiary for holiday spend this year. Some 32 per cent plan to stay in the UK this year to enjoy a staycation, with a further 14 per cent preferring day trips with their family and friends. And with the recent guidance published about Spain, the research also highlights a more cautionary tale with more than four in ten (44%) not planning to go on any holiday in 2020.

Unsurprisingly, for nearly three quarters (72%) of those choosing to remain in the UK, concerns around Covid-19 are playing a part in their decision making, with those aged 25 to 34 far more likely to think this compared to those aged 55 and above – at 81 per cent compared to 64 per cent.

Holiday expenditure:
Lockdown has provided an opportunity for some Brits to save money. According to the survey, one in five (20%) plan to use it to treat themselves to a break to get a change of scenery after so long indoors. This is particularly prevalent amongst younger people, with three in ten (30%) of those aged 16-34 planning to use money saved on a holiday compared to 14 per cent of 45-54s and 17 per cent of those aged 55 and above.

Analysis of Nationwide’s own customer spending data shows that some of the biggest increases in transactions since lockdown eased3 have been on holiday camps, hotels, vehicle rentals and flights.


Number of Transactions Debit Card Credit Card
Hotels Up 208% Up 244%
Holiday camps/parks Up 213% Up 251%
Flights Up 154% Up 134%
Vehicle rental Up 94% Up 92%

Nationwide’s own spending data also shows that people are spending more on their credit card on holiday-related transactions in 2020 than on debit cards, presumably to protect themselves from any future issues, such as cancellations, that may arise as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This boost for those in the tourism industry may be short lived though, as recent changes in travel advice for Spain may have dissuaded people from booking beaks.


Transaction value Debit Card Credit Card
Hotels Up 217% Up 262%
Holiday camps/parks Up 252% Up 327%
Flights Up 140% Up 137%
Vehicle rental Up 45% Up 82%

Staycation spending:
In a boost to local economies across the country, those choosing to remain in the UK are likely to spend, on average, £480 on items, ranging from travel and meals to entertainment and essentials. This is on top of spending on accommodation and travel, which many will have paid for prior to their staycation.

Graph showing break down of UK holiday spend

Let’s Fly Away:
Holidays abroad aren’t completely off the agenda for all Brits this year with around one in five (20%) choosing to holiday in Europe or further afield this year. While abroad, the research shows Brits will spend, on average, £612. That is £132 more than those holidaying in the UK are likely to spend (£480). However, it appears that the pandemic may have a longer-lasting effect on spending overseas, as nearly three in ten (28%) will spend less in future.

Graph showing brake down of overseas holiday spend

Types of holiday:
Staying in a hotel or renting accommodation is a popular option for Brits whether at home or abroad. However, for those preferring to stay in the UK, staying in a caravan (18%) and camping (14%) are popular ways to take a break this year, with road trips (13%) remaining an option for those going abroad. More than one in ten (13%) of those planning to holiday in the UK admit they are still unsure about what they’ll do.


Type of UK holiday % holidaying in UK
Hotel 24%
Cottage/house rental 22%
Caravan park 18%
Camping 14%
B&B 13%


Type of holiday abroad % holidaying abroad
Hotel 33%
Villa/house rental 21%
Camping 14%
Air B&B 13%
Road trip 13%

Holiday refunds:
Many people have already had their holiday plans disrupted due to the pandemic with two in five Brits (40%) having their vacation cancelled, although the holiday plans of just over a third (34%) remain on track. Of those whose plans were cancelled, 19 per cent received a cash refund, while 12 per cent received a voucher for another holiday.

Just over a fifth (19%) of those who received a refund used the money to book another holiday, with close to three in ten (29%) saving the money instead. A further 14 per cent spent their refund on something else, while 12 per cent used it to pay off debt.

Mark Nalder, Nationwide’s Head of Payments, said: “Although it’s clear that there remains some trepidation about taking a holiday this year, our data clearly shows that a large number of people are ready to escape their homes to enjoy a change of scenery. And, even though it’s a month on from the opening of the air bridges, Brits are choosing to stay at home to explore what’s on their own doorstep.

“While the annual break remains as much of our national identity as Christmas and the Royal Family, financial concerns as a result of the pandemic are clearly playing their part with how much people are prepared to spend. According to analysis of our data, Nationwide members are spending less on holidays this year compared to last, although whether that becomes a long-term trend is far too early to say.”

Greg Rutherford MBE said: “While we love travelling as a family, this can mean just popping a couple of hours down the coast for a long weekend. Travel doesn’t need to be grand to leave you feeling rejuvenated! We personally love renting a beachside cottage in the Kent town Deal; enjoying fish and chips on the beach, spending pocket money in the arcade, visit nearby Dover Castle (a must if you haven’t already been!) and just a change of scenery. I also love heading to The Lake District for an active trip away; climbing mountains, taking in beautiful scenery and enjoying the English sun because let’s face it, you can’t beat it when it actually comes out! Staycations are such an affordable way of treating yourself and loved ones to new experiences and we’ll always make sure we do them. There’s so much of the UK to see!”

Notes to Editor:

1 Data compares debit card spend between 15 June – 12 July 2020 and 15 June – 12 July 2019.
2 Research conducted online by Censuswide between 22 July and 24 July with 2,011 people across the UK.
3 Comparison of four-week period when lockdown eased (15 June -12 July) to the previous four-week period (18 May-14 June).

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